Failing to Stand Up for the Vulnerable

Feb 13

Following Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from 7 predominately Muslim countries and issuing a moratorium on most refugees, except for Syrian refugees who are banned indefinitely, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said, “There are terrorists in other countries who want to kill us and have leveraged a weak vetting system to do so.” Such paternalism need to be grounded in reality. The fact remains that refugees undergo stringent scrutiny with the process taking between 18-24 months. The probability of a successful application is very low, making it unattractive for terrorists to use this system to gain entry. Refugees from these banned countries are often the victims of terrorism and government oppression. Precisely the type of people the Statue of Liberty proclaims we should welcome.

Alex Nowrasteh, from the libertarian Cato Institute, has found that between 1975 and 2015 people from the 7 countries on Trump’s ban list have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on American soil. He further notes that over the last four decades the U.S. has welcomed 3.25 million refugees (not all Muslim, a reminder in case you hit the panic button). Only 20 of them have been convicted of attempting or committing an act of terror on American soil. Only 3 Americans have been killed in such acts, all by Cuban refugees in the 1970s. Syrian refugees account for exactly zero terrorist attacks. Mr. Mayor, we have not forgotten 9-11 either. Maybe you have. Of the 19 hijackers 15 came from Saudi Arabia, 2 from UAE, one each from Egypt and Lebanon. Why are those nations not on the ban list? Is it due to the fact that Mr. Trump has significant business interests in most of those nations?

Newly minted Congressman John Rutherford noted that he supports “increased vetting of travelers from countries that are known sponsors and harbors of terrorism.” The Congressman, like the Mayor, has not done his homework either. Global Terrorism Index ranks nations by terrorist activity. Countries in the top-10 but not on Trump’s 7-nation ban list include Afghanistan (ranked #2), Nigeria, Thailand, and Egypt. In their haste to score political points, the Trump administration failed to articulate a clear logic about why refugees are being banned and why people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are being singled out while people from countries that round out the top-25 list escape unscathed. It is noteworthy that Iran is number 39 on the Global Terrorism Index.

Keeping America safe and a land of liberty are not unique challenges that Trump stumbled upon after January 20, 2017. If the Trump administration was truly trying to preserve both liberty and security, they could have slowed down the intake of immigrants from the 7 nations of concern without issuing a blanket ban that is perceived to be based on religion. Trump and his surrogates have made no secret of their intention to ban Muslims while giving Christians priority. The fact that more Muslims, than people of any other religion, have been the victims of ISIS and al-Qaeda, is ignored in intending this policy. That religious litmus test is being applied to public policy has brought several legal challenges to the executive order.

Conflating refugees with immigrants gives away the notion that the Trump administration is motivated by animus not rational logic. Botching the roll out that left hundreds of travelers stranded with families split being apart, shows heartlessness. Just as this tragic drama was playing out at airports all across this country, just north of the border in Canada, a pro-Trump anti-immigrant student killed 6 Muslim worshippers at a mosque. Trump spokesman used this incident to support the Muslim-ban. If American safety is truly the motive then Trump and his supporters should plan a wall along the Canadian border and apply extreme vetting on all Canadians who wanted to immigrate to America. Anyone with pro-Trump anti-immigrant views should be turned back.