Trump’s Executive Order a Ban on Muslim Immigration?

On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that many are referring to as a “Muslim Ban” (read an earlier draft here).The order, entitled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” calls for an immediate halt in all refugee admissions for the next 120 days while the screening process is reviewed. Admittance of Syrian refugees will be halted indefinitely. The draft further states that all “aliens” travelling to the United States as “immigrants or non-immigrants” from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen will be refused entry for 90 days. Finally, the number of refugees granted visas will be cut from 110,000 to 50,000 this budget year.

Numerous groups have protested what appears to be a religiously motivated ban, including religious leaders in the United States, current and former government officials, rogue Twitter accounts, and others.

Accusations of a “Muslim Ban” have been denied by Trump and his administration. While it’s true that the order never expressly calls for a ban on the practitioners of Islam, there are several lines that critics have noticed may indicate religious motivation:

“Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State…is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based prosecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

This line might not be such a big deal if the order banned refugees from any majority-Christian nations. But it doesn’t- that means any fleeing Muslims are out of luck. Trump’s statements on Christian Broadcasting Network’s The Brody File, also don’t help his case. When Brody asks if helping Christian refugees is a priority, Trump unequivocally answers “yes” before explaining that Christians face worse persecution but have a harder time getting into the U.S. (Fact check: while Christians have been killed in the Middle East, Muslims are far more often the victims of violence. For more precise numbers, check out this thorough NPR article).

Trump’s administration argues that the ban is essential to improving U.S. security. In the draft, he writes “numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program.” There have been cases of attempted attacks on the United States from foreign-born people: take, for example, the infamous Underwear Bomber, who boarded a plane on Christmas Day in 2009 with explosives sewn into his underwear (they failed to detonate).

However, a December 2015 report by the Rand Corporation contradicts the claims made by the Trump administration. At the time of the report, Rand Corporation reported that 134 people were involved in “jihadist” terrorism plots since 9/11. Of those 134, 115 were already longtime residents of the United States. The remaining 19 came to the United States in a variety of ways: 8 were on temporary visas, 1 was on a Visa Waiver Program, 3 illegally crossed the border, and 7 fell into the “other” category (which includes refugees and those seeking asylum). The Migration Policy Institute a think-tank from Washington DC, reveals similar numbers: as of the end of 2015, the United States had allowed 784,000 refugees into the country. Only three were arrested in connection to terrorist plots. Furthermore, as this New Yorker article points out, every successful, lethal terrorist attack was carried out by someone who was either a citizen of the United States or a legal, longtime resident.

So, if the ban does not appear to be an effective measure in the quest to keep Americans safe, why do Trump supporters like this plan? Some of their responses offer a clue:

“We need to be safe. We need to feel safe and get control over the terroristic threats. Our president is trying to do that.”

This Trump supporter indicates that she appreciates the president’s efforts to keep the nation safe. For a voter who may have doubted President Obama’s ability to keep terrorists out of the United States, this sweeping order may have created a sense of relief; at least something is being done.

Trump’s administration has said that calling his executive order a Muslim ban is “ludicrous,” but there are clearly many who disagree. If you do think the order is religiously motivated, do you think the president has the right to restrict admittance based upon religions? Is this a moral decision? Why might President Trump and his administration want to prioritize Christian refugees?Some have compared this executive order to historical refusal to grant asylum to members of the Jewish faith fleeing Nazi Germany. Is this an apt comparison? Why or why not?