US diplomats weigh rebuff of Trump order

A group of State Department diplomats is weighing public criticism of President Trump's order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to multiple reports.

ABC News reports that the group is drafting a "dissent" memo warning that Trump's action will only "sour relations" with key allies and spark more anti-American sentiment around the globe.

"This ban ... will not achieve its stated aim to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States," the draft says, noting the "near-absence of terror attacks committed in recent years" by those who would be restricted under the new policy.

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"This ban will have little practical effect in improving public safety... [and] calls back to some of the worst times in our history," it adds.

Trump's order, signed Saturday, bans the entry of Syrian refugees while imposing a 90-day entry ban for visa-holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Border security agents initially banned green-card holders from those seven countries before the administration signaled they could be admitted.

The dissent memo would presumably be sent through the State Department's official "Dissent Channel," a Vietnam War-era creation that gave diplomats the outlet to send statements of disagreement to their higher-ups about the nation's policies or actions.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Hill that he is "aware" of the dissent memo in a brief statement by email. 
 
"The Dissent Channel is a longstanding official vehicle for State Department employees to convey alternative views and perspectives on policy issues. This is an important process that the Acting Secretary, and the Department as a whole, value and respect," he added. 
 
"It allows State employees to express divergent policy views candidly and privately to senior leadership.” 

Dissent Challenge messages are supposed to remain confidential within the department, according to a speech by then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1995. He described the channel as "an essential tool" but a last resort for those who can't find recourse elsewhere in the agency.

Last year, The New York Times published a draft of a dissent memo from diplomats calling for the administration to launch strikes against Syria and its president, Bashar Assad.

Lawmakers, including a handful of Republicans, have spoken out against Trump's order and protesters demonstrated over the weekend in airports where immigration authorities were detaining and questioning new arrivals.

The administration has vigorously defended its order, calling it essential to protect the American homeland.

"There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country. This was a big part of my campaign. Study the world!" Trump tweeted on Monday morning.