Alex Aleinikoff, Director of The Zolberg Institute of Migration and Mobility at The New School
George Biddle, Chairman, World Connect and former Executive Vice President, International Rescue Committee
James Jay Carafano, Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation
Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute
Moderated by Margaret Warner, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, The PBS NewsHour

April 10, 2017

Extensive focus on refugees masks persistent issues in the Middle East, argued experts at a panel debating President Trump’s attempted ban on new entries to the US by citizens of six majority-Muslim nations. The conversation, moderated by PBS NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner, began with a debate over whether or not the executive order was truly a ‘Muslim Ban,’ with panelists in disagreement. Discussion then touched upon the reasons for the order, its effectiveness, past US refugee policy, and the underlying causes of the contemporary migration crisis.

Panelists disagreed over the role of rhetoric and the executive order. Carafano argued that what the president said during the campaign is no longer relevant, while Biddle contended that his rhetoric shaped the executive order. Panelists were also split over whether or not the order was effective. Aleinikoff argued that existing policy was stringent already, while Carafano said that it was more lenient than would be expected. Similarly, panelists did not agree on why the president signed the executive order, with Aleinikoff arguing that it was to keep Muslims out of the US, others saying that it was a purely domestic political move, and Pletka and Carafano contending that it was a genuine attempt to mitigate security concerns.

All involved in the discussion did, however, agree that actors need to work together to solve the underlying reasons for the refugee crisis itself, namely the Syrian conflict. Questions from the audience focused on the intersection of rhetoric and policy.

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