General Information on Executive Orders from USCCB

General Information on Executive Orders from USCCB:

What is an Executive Order?

Executive Orders are directives from the President to federal agencies to exercise the executive power in a particular way. Executive Orders carry the force and effect of law, and federal agencies are required to follow them. Often, Executive Orders require agencies to issue regulations to implement the policy specified in the Order.

How are Executive Orders different than Executive Actions?

An Executive Action is a formal statement of Presidential intent. Executive Actions are not binding as federal law. Through Executive Actions, the President proposes his ideas to pursue particular objectives and instructs federal agencies to carry them out. Congress can make Executive Actions law.

Can Executive Orders be challenged or changed?

In order to be valid, Executive Orders must operate within the bounds of the executive power–that is, they can only exercise powers that are authorized by an Act of Congress or the U.S. Constitution, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly/inherently. The legislative and judicial branches can operate as checks on Executive Orders that exceed the executive power. For example, when a lawsuit is filed to challenge an Executive Order, a federal court may declare the Order invalid and/or block its enforcement (judicial). Similarly, Congress may pass a statute contradicting an Executive Order or cutting appropriations for its implementation (legislative), though these are subject to veto.

Our Shared American Values

While the President’s executive order is centered on refugees and immigrants from, now six specific countries, it is effectively a Muslim ban. This not only goes against our religious values but also our American values.

The United States Constitution expressly protects individuals from persecution perpetrated by their own government. This includes discrimination  based on faith, on nation of origin, and skin color. Our nation is stronger when we stand united against hate, and when we are united under our common values. These values include the freedom to practice our faith or to simply exist without fear, intimidation, or threat of physical violence. Americans who are Muslim should be free to pray without fear of backlash from their government. All Americans, including Latin Americans, should have the freedom to walk down the street without fear of being stopped based on the color of their skin or the language they speak.

Certainly, we must address the threat of terrorism.  Yet, we must do so based on evidence, without singling out an entire group of people based on their faith, their country of origin, or their skin color.  Not only is this the right thing to do, it is also, with regards to national security, the more effective thing to do. This executive order will not make us safer.  Instead, it will undermine our standing in the world and tarnish our international reputation for fairness and justice, liberty and equality.

A safe America stands by its constitution because it’s what makes us strong. We live up to our highest values, and we embrace others into our American melting pot as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The freedom of religion is a bedrock principle of our constitution. President Trump’s executive order threatens this principle. The persecution of one faith threatens the protection of all faiths. An attack on one religious minority is an attack on the freedom of religion for all Americans.

God speaks to us through Isaiah on this very issue:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Isaiah 58:7

We are all our brothers and sisters keepers. We must not turn our back on our American values and those yearning to be free, no matter their religion or country of origin.

Compiled by: Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns, Franciscan Action Network,