Trump vs. International Law
YaleGlobal 15 February 2019
The Trump administration’s heavy-handed America First policies clash with international law. So far, the courts and other institutions withstand the onslaught to confront troubling policies – from a travel ban for nationals from Muslim-majority nations to separation of immigrant parents from children and refusal to acknowledge asylum seekers at the US border with Mexico. “Time and again, law has pushed Trump’s immigration policies back,” explains Yale legal scholar and author Harold Hongju Koh. “Trump and his subordinates overlooked how the patchwork of laws and policies they scorn … provide legal protections for vulnerable populations.” International law, massive and complex, is a foundation to international understanding and relations. Quick fixes are disruptive, and changes to agreements and mechanisms require long and painstaking work. Domestic and international legal and civic institutions, weary and battered, contain the damage for now, though Koh warns that authoritarians around the world increasingly disparage immigrants, scientists, journalists and judges while claiming to represent the people’s will.