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Trump's Immigration Ban is a Blot on the American Conscience

President Donald Trump’s immigration order suspends immigration from Syria indefinitely, suspends all refugee immigration for 120 days and suspends entry of citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries (including Syria) for 90 days. After 120 days the refugee admissions program will be resumed for persons from those countries for which it has been determined that their citizens do not pose a threat. The Departments of State and Homeland Security will “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.”

President Trump has insisted that his ban is not a “Muslim ban” and that such an interpretation is a fiction created by the media. Indeed, the ban does not include all or even the largest Muslim population countries (ironically, it does not include those countries whose citizens have perpetrated terror against the U.S. either – except for the Somalian Ohio State University student who injured 13 people). However, no non-Muslim countries are included. The list of countries was taken from those which the Obama administration restricted from the U.S. visa waiver program, which allows visitation to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. The “prioritization” rule for members of minority religions who have been persecuted has been interpreted to mean non-Muslims, and President Trump has said that he is specifically wanting to help Christians who have been persecuted to immigrate to the U.S.

In 2106, according to the UN, the country of origin of the largest number of refugees  was Afghanistan, followed closely by Syria, then Somalia and Sudan. All of these are Muslim-majority countries and citizens from three of them are now prohibited from immigrating. These people are the world’s neediest, coming uniformly from poor countries and having no possessions but clothing and personal effects. All of them have suffered in their countries, many have lost loved ones, and many have braved hardships escaping their countries, a journey which killed many others. A majority are women and children.  Virtually all American politicians routinely proclaim that Americans are “a compassionate people” and the “most generous people” on the planet.  Prior to the recent immigration ban, the U.S. ranked 27th in the world in terms of number of Syrian refugees accepted at roughly 16,000. By contrast Germany had accepted 600,000, Greece, 500,000, and Canada 40,000. The current ban will soon make us the least generous country in terms of acceptance of Syrian refugees.

While ISIS has targeted Christians and killed or driven them out of the regions they control, they have killed and persecuted more Muslims than Christians and Shia/Sunni disputes have resulted in much greater loss of life and uprooting of families than persecution of non-Muslim minorities. Persecution in countries such as Syria or Somalia, Iraq or Iran is as often political or ethnic as religious and making exceptions for religious persecution and even restricting it to victims who are not Muslim, is itself a prejudiced policy, with no rationale other than preference of religious issues over secular ones in terms of defining persecution and of one religion over another in terms of requiring the religion to be a minority one in that country.

The Executive Order banning entry and immigration is an unnecessary, religiously biased assault on Muslims, which promotes the image of America as one of the world’s least compassionate countries. It violates our own country’s traditions of building our citizenry though immigration and being a diverse country that welcomes the world’s most needy people to our shores. It is a blot on the American conscience.

Reader Comments (2)

I'm in complete agreement. Add to that the fact that countries doing Trump business have been excluded, even though known to have harbored terrorists, whereas some of the countries banned have never harbored terrorists, and we see this as an action fueled by divisiveness and hatred, but a hatred tempered by financial self-interest on the part of a president who refuses to divest himself of his financial interests.

January 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnca Vlasopolos

We need to be a far less accommodating country. There is nothing incumbent upon us to solve the world's problems by throwing open our borders for every pathetic situation that exists on the planet. Obviously, if we continue to accept large numbers of refugees, we will become the exact same sort of country from which these people are attempting to flee. Look at the horrific problems the people of Sweden, France, Italy, Germany and many other European countries are experiencing. Migration has caused a tremendous economic and social strain on the governments and established citizens living on that continent. We in the US can't even begin to properly care for the afflicted and indigent people we have here right now. Migration simply exacerbates this tragic domestic issue. It also now appears that many leaders in our country and a growing number of other countries are beginning to recognize that for a significant minority of Muslims, their religion is less of a faith and more of a political movement. It seems that the extreme vetting is an attempt to identify this type of individual, which then limits the outcry of religious persecution since it focuses more on a person's potentially radical views of government and culture rather than their theological beliefs. And as always, please don't hesitate to take direct individual responsibility for your concerns: Contact your governmental and church leaders and tell them that the doors to your home are always open to give succor and relief to migrants from anywhere in the world. Offer free room and board and financial assistance for these people. Then you will have a moral high-ground from which to argue regarding our country's traditions and obligations regarding "compassion."

February 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Wheeler

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