Is Trump’s Plan to Temporarily Ban Refugees Just?

Executive orders will be signed by newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump to temporarily halt refugees from coming to the United States, The New York Times reported.

In a preliminary draft of the order obtained by the newspaper, the plan calls for an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and 120-day ban on refugees from all other parts of the world. At the end of the ban, refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen would be barred an additional 30 days.

At the end of the waiting period, the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. would be cut roughly in half, from 110,000 to 50,000.

“It’s going to be very hard to come in,” the president said. “Right now, it’s very easy to come in.”

At the same time, Trump ordered a wall to be built on America’s border with Mexico and revived existent programs that provide for the federal government to work with local and state officials to track, arrest and deport illegal immigrants with criminal records.

“We are going to get the bad ones out — the criminals and the drug dealers and gangs and gang members,” he said. “The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc. We are going to get them out, and we are going to get them out fast.”

Although the plan is billed as an about-face from the previous administration’s approach, Obama deported millions of illegal immigrant workers during his first term.

Since then, plans were drawn up to give citizenship to many of the country’s illegal immigrants.

 

Pro

The threat of terror on the homeland fueled by the worldwide rise of radical Islam is a reality that all can acknowledge. With the admitted lack of proper vetting procedures by U.S. officials and the expressed goal of embedding militants into groups of refugees by Islamic State and other terror groups, this temporary ban cannot be viewed as anything but reasonable.

We can simply look to the example set by immigration authorities who admitted Tashfeen Malik into the U.S. Malik, along with her husband, perpetrated the San Bernardino attack that killed 14 and injured 22.  After the attack, it was revealed that a “secret” U.S. policy forbids immigration officials from checking the social media accounts of foreigners applying for visas to enter the U.S.  If immigration officials would have been able to take a simple look at the radical postings in Malik’s social media accounts, “maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

At the very least, the temporary ban will allow policies such as these to be changed and serious vetting procedures implemented. Further, with the reduced number of refugees that will be allowed into the country, one must assume that existent officials will be able to better handle smaller numbers.

In addition, the plan orders the secretary of state and the secretary of homeland security to identify refugees from religious minorities who have been persecuted so that these people would have priority when the immigration ban is lifted, a policy sorely lacking in the previous administration (where Christians, who have been subjected to genocide, represented only 0.46 percent of all Syrian refugees allowed into the U.S.).

An indefinite ban on Syrian refugees is not the same as a permanent ban. It can be assumed this ban merely means the government does not want to be boxed into a timeframe for taking refugees from one of the most complicated war zones in the world – where oftentimes, in terms of fighting-aged men,  there are no clearly defined “good guys” and “bad guys.”

To compensate, Trump favors setting up a safe zone in Syria so the country’s citizens are not forced to flee their homeland. In numerous interviews in various conflict zones, this is by far the option that most people prefer.

Far from a being a racist ban on Muslims, the temporary plan is being implemented “in order to protect Americans.”  The executive order states, “We must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward our country and its founding principles.”

The countries singled out for the extra 30-day waiting period represent countries that are “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

In sum, Trump views the plan as a way to prevent what is happening in Europe, particularly, Germany, from happening in the U.S.

“It’s a disaster, what’s happening there,” he says, noting, “A nation without borders is not a nation.”

 

Con

The new executive orders calling for a temporary ban of refugees (and in the case of Syria, an indefinite ban)  go against the core values of the United States, which was founded as a  country for those fleeing persecution abroad.

“Donald Trump is making good on the most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail,” said the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington-based, non-profit organization that promotes relations with Iran. “He called for a Muslim ban and is now taking the first steps to implement one. This will not stand. The American people are better than this.”

Calling the executive order a “fundamental challenge to what America represents,” NIAC echoed claims of many civil-liberty groups when they said, “Donald Trump appears intent on throwing that America away and taking us down a slippery slope towards a dark future.”

Notably absent from the countries listed in the temporary ban for an extra 30-day waiting period are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which shows, given the history of radicalized elements in those countries, that the ban is more of a political statement than anything else.

For many refugees, this ban represents the difference between life and death.

CAIR’s national executive director Nihad Awad remarked that under international law, refugees are granted “rights beyond what normal immigrants have.” Awad noted that while the orders may be legal, they are not necessarily moral.

One of the most unwelcomed effects of such a ban is that they are being perceived as extreme measures, which in turn, gives strength to the extremists. Case in point: Once Islamists begin to call the orders a racist attack on Muslims (which they already have), the narrative moves from practicality to political division – meaning, Islamists will use programs like these to prove to young Muslims that America is against them.

These attitudes, in turn, create a victim mentality which fosters radicalization.

A better plan would be to change the current vetting procedures to weed out jihadis without having to resort to an out-and-out ban.

America must be able to show the world – as well as its own citizens – that it is not anti-Muslim.

 

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org