As promised in his campaign, President Donald Trump has issued an executive order temporarily banning immigrants and refugees from seven countries that are hotbeds of terrorism until the prospective immigrants can be further vetted and protocol put in place that will better serve U.S. national interests and protect the lives of the American people.
Some have responded with panic and condemnation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote, “As the Statue of Liberty holds her torch of welcome high, there are tears in her eyes as she sees how low this Administration has stooped in its callousness toward mothers and children escaping war-torn Syria. This Administration has mistaken cruelty for strength and prejudice for strategy.”
Dara Lind of Vox compares Trump’s action to immigration policies of World War II, when “America didn’t feel strongly enough about the mistreatment of Jews to allow them to find a safe harbor in the US.”
America has spent 70 years atoning for its sin by becoming the most welcoming country in the world for refugees. Half of all refugees who are permanently resettled in new countries are resettled in the United States. That is a legacy that Americans are proud of, and should be. It’s the closest America has come, in the 20th century, to honoring the inscription on the Statue of Liberty.
Jewish WWII Refugees Didn’t Support Terrorism
Some on the Right agree. Here’s a tweet from former NeverTrump presidential candidate Evan McMullin:
The reference to the Holocaust has been repeated ad nauseam on social media, as if these two situations are identical. But they’re not. First, war on another continent and concern about enemy spies infiltrating the ranks of refugees are not the same as the risks of importing terrorism and jihadists from the unvetted regions of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, who are intent on killing us here at home.
Jews fleeing Germany didn’t want to kill Americans and didn’t support Nazism. Yet 13 percent of Syrian refugees say they support ISIS, and a survey of Syrians from every region of the country found something that should give every person comparing them to Jewish refugees pause.
A fifth of those interviewed said the Islamic State—the brutal Islamist group known for its beheadings, and that rules over large swaths of Syria and Iraq—is a positive influence on the country. Eighty-two percent said they believe the Islamic State was created by the United States and its allies.
Europe also stands as a testimony of what’s different about this refugee crisis and what Trump is trying to prevent. In England and Wales last year, police arrested 900 Syrians for crimes that include rape and child abuse, although most were for immigration violations.
In Germany, migrants were linked to 69,000 crimes in the first quarter of 2016, and another report shows that refugees committed 92,000 more crimes in 2015 than they had the year before, showing an increase of criminal activity with the influx of immigrants and refugees into the country. Comparing the refugee situation in 2017 to WWII fails to take into consideration the real differences between the Jews in World War II and refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa.
This Is a Temporary Pause to Assess the Situation
Another difference that’s significant is that Trump’s order is not permanent, but temporary, lasting three to four months. It also allows for exceptions. According to the order,
[T]o ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas). . . .
[T]he Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.
[T]he Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.
Where’s the racism? Where’s the cruelty? It’s not there. But if you read protests about Trump’s order, you’d think he was committing genocide himself. The Huffington Post accused the president of targeting Muslims, yet nowhere does the order mention any ethnic group. These countries include a variety of religions, cultures, and ethnicities.
The Government’s Duty Is to Look Out for Americans
Religious groups that work with refugees are calling the order “disgusting” and “vile,” citing the biblical book of Leviticus as a directive for U.S. policy: “The alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.
“It is deeply ingrained in our faith and our understanding of the Bible that we’re called to welcome the stranger and love and serve our neighbors,” says Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service President Linda Hartke. “Not the neighbors that we choose, but the neighbors that God gives to us.”
What Hartke and others like her are missing is that the U.S. government is not the church. It doesn’t form policy around biblical teaching regarding ancient Israel or the New Testament church. The job of the U.S. government is to protect the interests and safety of Americans, not abide by biblical doctrine regarding the treatment of aliens in the ancient nation of Israel.
When you consider the order in light of the government’s efforts to balance national security with its commitment to accept refugees for asylum, it’s hardly the horror everyone is making it out to be. It’s also not out of step with trends in immigration policy since President Bush.
As David French writes at National Review, “Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in-between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms.”
In 2002, the United States admitted only 27,131 refugees. It admitted fewer than 50,000 in 2003, 2006, and 2007. As for President Obama, he was slightly more generous than President Bush, but his refugee cap from 2013 to 2015 was a mere 70,000, and in 2011 and 2012 he admitted barely more than 50,000 refugees himself.
The bottom line is that Trump is improving security screening and intends to admit refugees at close to the average rate of the 15 years before Obama’s dramatic expansion in 2016. Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction.
Yet, despite the facts, there’s panic that Trump has banned all Muslims, that he’s instituting racism (even though Muslim isn’t a race), and that he’s turning his back on the helpless of the world in the most heartless of ways.
This Order Is Designed to Reduce Bigotry
Contrary to what many people think, the order is actually straightforward and reasonable, designed “to protect Americans” and to “ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.”
The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
This is in keeping with U.S. policy: “to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.” The goal is clear and unprejudiced: to develop “a uniform screening standard and procedure,” including,
[I]n-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.
There’s not even a hint of bigotry here. Yet, conservatives like McMullin who are still sore from losing to Trump are warning other Republicans that if they support this order, they’re soiled by racism.
How are Republicans in league with racists, exactly? Just because a racist is skeptical of refugees from terrorism-exporting countries for his own twisted reasons doesn’t mean all Republicans who support the policy are racist. This is simply logically incoherent. If all McMullin is doing to telling Republicans to condemn such comments, okay. They’re condemned.
Crying ‘Racism’ Is an Attempt to Avoid the Issues
But McMullin is doing more than that. He’s purposely trying to use far-Right/Left racism to stain Trump Republicans and Trump policies. In this way, he and others like him are using the tactics of Left by labeling Republicans racists in order to stigmatize and delegitimize them.
Just cry “Racism!!” instead of dealing with the facts and debating the issues on their merits. It’s pure manipulation, and those who believe it have been sucked into the vortex of groupthink. This has been the modis operandi of the Left for decades. And now the NeverTrump Right has adopted it for political opportunism.
Republicans who support Trump’s order are not in “league” with racists. Their “silence” in refusing to give racists the time of day does not “define” who they are. Their commitment to protecting Americans doesn’t make them a bunch of callous bigots. Just because the Left thinks the policy is racist doesn’t make it so.
Wanting to protect our citizens from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals coming into the country isn’t racist or callous. It shows compassion and concern for Americans, for our families, our children, our way of life. Does this mean we don’t care about people who are suffering in war-torn regions? We do. This order recognizes that suffering, which is why it allows for exceptions and why the order is temporary.
Yet those who aim to take political advantage want you to believe racism is driving it. But that’s a lie—a convenient one. Narratives like these began during the primary when NeverTrumpers warned Republicans that if you elect Trump, you will ruin the GOP because it will be branded racist. Funny thing is, it’s people like McMullin and the NeverTrump Right who are doing this branding, along with the Left. How very convenient for people who would like to delegitimize Trump in order to see him defeated in 2020.
This false narrative will backfire. For the conservative Right engaging in these leftist tactics, it will either merely help Democrats get re-elected in 2018 and 2020. Or it will so enrage Republicans who support Trump that they will war against conservatism, turning them from the principles of liberty NeverTrump Republicans say they champion. I hope this won’t happen, but it’s a risk.
That’s why this racism smear needs to be challenged at every turn. The focus should be on shutting down the lie, not worrying about whom we’re passively associating with, how our actions are perceived, or trying to prove we’re not racists.
The fact is Trump is not a racist. His administration is not racist. Trump supporters are not defined by fringe racists any more than Democrats are defined by the bigots in their ranks. Trump policies are not racist. Republicans are not in league with racists. That’s the truth, and we need to take confidence in it even as the Left and malcontents on the Right try to drag us through the mud.
Update: This article has been edited to reflect challenges to a statistic regarding levels of Syrian refugee crime in the UK.