This week the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order banning entry to the United States from seven countries. The reasoning behind this list of countries was their history of terrorism. The nations on the list are Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria. Notably absent from the list were three other nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Given that the majority of the participants in the 911 attacks were from Saudi Arabia you have to wonder why Saudi Arabia was left off the list. One could argue that the list is based on the one President Obama sent to Congress during his adminstration.
I believe the administration handled this poorly. First, it should have had a 48 hour grace period. If you were already on a plane headed to the United States there is the assumption that you were granted a visa and had already been vetted. It brings into question what we are going to do with someone on a plane who lands in the United States only to find the policy has changed since they took off and their visa is no longer valid. Second, it should have provided more explanation on why each nation was placed o the list and why other nations were not on the list.
This is an issue that Donald Trump campaigned on and so it should be no surprise that he has followed through on this promise. He has been consistent in doing the things that he said he would do. In my mind there are two groups of people that are being affected and yet they seem to be treated the same.
The first group are those travelers that are coming to the United States for various reasons. It could be visiting family, tourism or business. These are people who to not give an intention to remain in the United States for any lengthy period of time. To make this trip they had to apply with the embassy or consulate in their home nation and receive a visa for the travel. It stands to reason that they have been vetted and passed in order to receive the visa. If they already have the visa they should, in my opinion, be permitted to travel. And after reading the text of the Executive Order they will be admitted to the United States after a second screening which takes only a short period of time.
The second group are refugees. They are an entirely different group because they intend to remain in the United States on a permanent basis. Vetting on these people has to be very different and much more thorough. Enforcing the Executive Order on this group is more acceptable to me than the first group.
So now we have protests around the country at airports. I am not sure what these protesters hope to accomplish. Anyone that has travelled through customs knows that nobody protesting will see you because you would be detained well before you get to where they are standing. The customs and immigration officers are only enforcing what they are directed to enforce. Are they demanding that the customs and immigration officers ignore the Executive Order and just allow people to enter the nation? I can assure you that they will not ignore what they are told to enforce. These same protesters probably cheered when President Obama directed these same people, as well as the Border Patrol, to ignore the law and release people who crossed the border illegally.
I suspect that there is a large cadre of people out there that are looking for issues to protest on Trump administration policies. I saw one sign on the news that said “This country was built on refugees.” I would ask that protester where they were when in 2011 President Obama banned immigrants from Iraq for a period of several months. So that shows that we have done this activity in the past and the left seemed to have no problem with it when “their” President enacts the ban.
The protests seem to have focused on Muslims. The order does not specify religion but only travelers from nations on the list. But if you look at a group that is being persecuted in the Middle East it would be Christians. But you rarely hear about this persecution in the media. The narrative they want to use is American persecution of Muslims.
In my mind there are several major issues in play here.
First, immigration is an issue that needs to be addressed. We need comprehensive immigration reform and hopefully Congress will finally do what they should and pass a bill. We need to address how many immigrants we are going to allow to enter the nation and what we are going to do with those that are currently in the nation illegally. I use the term illegally because it is the word that describes them correctly. The left likes to use the word undocumented. That sounds like your immigration papers are somehow not in order when in effect you have no immigration papers. You crossed the border in an illegal manner (that means you broke the law) and entered the United States. If someone breaks into your house they commit an illegal act and you don’t call it an undocumented entry, you call it an illegal break in.
The second issue is one that nations around the western world are finding difficulty in dealing with when they bring in large numbers of refugees. The social norms of the western world differ greatly from middle eastern nations that have a predominantly Muslim population. In Europe you have seen these people congregate in cities and create, for lack of a better word, ghettos of immigrants who try to recreate their culture and societal norms in a new country. There have been numerous reports of women being assaulted and harassed for not conforming to their strict dress codes should they enter these neighborhoods.
In the United States we have had periods of large immigration. The difference between those immigrants and the ones we see coming from Muslim nations was their desire to assimilate. In many case these immigrants changed their names to blend into the society. Many of them refused to allow their children to speak the native language (that was a mistake in my opinion because being multi-lingual is always an asset) as they strived to become Americans. But with the immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations they have for the most part refused to assimilate and attempted to set up their own culture within the United States. Some have even demanded that they be allowed to ignore U.S. Law and enforce Sharia law in their community. That is simply not acceptable.
The final issue is what to do with the current large number of refugees. ISIS has caused a major problem throughout the Middle East. Syria, one of the nations on the list, is in total turmoil and you have to feel for the people caught in the middle of this civil war. From the perspective of the United States I am not sure there is a winner that we can really accept. The rebels seemed primed to align with ISIS and the Assad regime is despotic. But the United States and the West are simply not prepared to absorb every person who now decides they want to leave their homeland. It begs the question as to why other Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are not opening their borders to these refugees.
I have to make one final point that goes to the larger issue that everyone wants to ignore. Over the past 50 years we have seen the Executive Branch become more and more powerful at the expense of the Legislative Branch. Because the Congress has been gridlocked due to their inability to compromise on important issues the Executive Branch has grabbed the power. Presidents are using Executive Orders and Executive Memorandum (Obama used this term to hide the full number but Memorandum are the same as Orders) to accomplish what the Congress is incapable of doing. When a Democrat President issues these orders the left applauds them and blames Republicans for being obstructionists. When a Republican issues similar orders the Republicans cheer them and Democrats are being obstructionists. See the pattern. When our guy does it we like it but when the other side does it we object. The truth is that the Legislative Branch needs to step up and retake the authority granted them in the Constitution and rein in the Executive Branch.