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What's Wrong With Trump's Immigration and Travel Ban?


Last week, Trump signed an Executive Order implementing a 90-120 day travel and immigration ban that applies to seven Muslim-majority countries. The result has been a spate of court cases, resulting in putting the ban on hold, and worldwide protests in the streets. Many Americans believe this ban does not reflect the vision they have of our country. I agree.

Why should we object to this ban?

We have had no terror-related deaths in our country from immigrants or refugees from any of the countries affected by Trump’s ban. Most of the terror incidents in our country have been the product of “homegrown” men who have been radicalized while they lived in the U.S. Only the Somalian student at Ohio State University who injured a number of people in a car and knife attack entered our country as an immigrant from one of the seven countries. By his own account, he was radicalized after he arrived. The  9/11 and San Bernardino attacks were perpetrated by visitors or immigrants from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, none of which are on the list of countries affected by the current ban. Perhaps the vetting procedures for new immigrants and even visitors need to be reviewed and revised, but an emergency situation that would dictate the immediate suspension of travel while such review occurred does not exist.

The Trump order was broad and at first included current green card holders, all forms of visas, except diplomatic ones, and all immigration. The order was implemented as soon as it was announced, without the agencies responsible for carrying out the procedures having time to prepare for it and without persons traveling on visas being given time to modify their travel plans. The roll-out was so ill-conceived that the procedures had to be modified several times after it was announced, for instance, finally excluding green card holders from the ban. With regard to persons traveling on visas, and perhaps immigrants, the ban appears to violate the 1965 Immigration and Nationalities Act, which prohibits restriction of visas  and immigration quotas on the basis of national origin.

Although the Trump administration continues to deny that the current travel and immigration order is a “Muslim ban,” it applies only to Muslim majority countries. Perhaps more telling, members of “non-majority religions,” i.e. non-Muslims who suffer religious persecution will be “prioritized” in determining who can immigrate to the United States, once the ban is lifted. Not only does this rule single out religious persecution above political or ethnic persecution, but it excludes Muslims, who have suffered the greatest persecution, for a variety of reasons, including religious ones among denominational factions within the Islamic religion. President Trump, in an interview following publication of his Executive Order, said outright that his aim is to prioritize the admission of Christians, whom he felt were being discriminated against in U.S. immigration policies and were victims of “horrific” persecution in the Middle East. For those who jealously guard against the use of religion in giving preferences in U.S. foreign or domestic policies, as the constitution forbids, this aspect of the order was anathema.

Finally, the most onerous aspect of the Executive Order is the indefinite suspension of refugee admissions from Syria. Syrians are the people who probably are currently the most dispossessed, those most in danger, those who have been the victims of the greatest violence, and the most needy in the world. Millions of Syrians are refugees in other countries, many of them also in the Middle East, such as Turkey and Jordan, and many of them in Europe. America, whose self-image is one of being the “most generous” and the “most compassionate” of all the nations in the world, in response to the Syrian crisis, a civil war in which we have participated in air attacks and on-the-ground support for rebel factions, is well down the list of countries, in fact 27th in terms of taking in Syrian refugees. Now we will sink even lower. The indefinite suspension of immigration from Syria reflects the “America First” philosophy of President Trump. To many Americans and also to people in many other regions of the world, this philosophy is selfish, uncompassionate, ungenerous, and represents exactly the kind of “me first and the hell with the rest of you” attitude that Americans have always rejected and should still. We may be Americans, but we are first of all humans and humanity extends beyond national borders.

There are many reasons for opposing the immigration ban imposed by the Trump administration. Basically, it comes down to  the fact that implementing the ban turns us into the kind of country that many of us do not want us to be.

Reader Comments (1)

I'm all for being generous and compassionate as long as our government applies those virtues to our citizenry first and foremost. When we have our massive and extensive internal problems under control then we can properly focus on helping those people struggling in the rest of the world. We need to take care of the homeland and our own people before we use our resources outside our own borders. Oherwise, there is really no reason for government at all. It's only purpose is to ensure the safety and well-being of the people it actually governs. External humanitarian concerns are only properly addressed when the government has fulfilled its primary duty. I'll give you and example: I'm out walking with my family in downtown L.A.. Suddenly, a powerful earthquake occurs. Who am I most concerned with initially? My family, of course. Once I've ascertained their safety, then I'll go to help anyone and everyone else to the absolute best of my ability. I honestly don't think anybody is much different than that. Call it selfishness or tribalism, but these bonds are primal and at the core of our being. And that is exactly how our government has to look at its own citizens. We are the fortunately fated people to whom our government is intimately connected and committed. Our president is the Pater Familias of the country and its people, not for the rest of the world.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Wheeler

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