The Immigration Ban: Beyond Identity Politics
In January of 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that is “suspending entry…for 90 days” of “immigrants and non-immigrants” from “Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen”. Additionally, refugees will be suspended from entering the US for a “120-day period” (Executive Order). His supposed intention for the ban is to use this time to fix the immigration and vetting process. Although, to many Americans, this may seem like a logical idea in order to reform our immigration system, others have pointed out major flaws in the executive order as well as some calling it racist and Islamophobic. From my point of view, this order by the President was implemented in an ineffective way, but it may also put fuel to the fire of the very issue it is trying to fix.
In the media, few of the proponents on either side of the issue to fail to address the facts and stick to the troubling ideology of “identity politics”. When reading the order itself, the problems become very real and very scary. Although President Trump promised his supporters and the American people of severed business ties and no “conflict of interests”, it becomes apparent that this promise has already been broken. According to NPR, his daughter Ivanka spoke to the media about the Trump family’s business affairs, citing that they had “multiple [business] opportunities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.” This was in 2015. Now, do you notice anything? Where are these countries on the banned list? They’re not there. And none of the countries banned have major business ties with Trump. Some may call this a coincidence or not an issue, but the facts tell a different story. According to Vox, “no immigrants from any of the seven countries on the list have killed Americans in terrorist attacks in the United States. Not one.” Additionally, the attackers from 9/11 “came from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Lebanon, and Egypt,” and most foreign attackers have ties to Saudi Arabia (BBC World News). Wouldn’t that country be on the list if the primary intention was to keep Americans safe? Some would continue to argue that Trump’s business dealings aren’t relevant and that he (according to written agreements he has made and promised to the American people) is not able to talk with his children about business and he is now “uninvolved” with it. I heard this explained perfectly by a friend — “If a parent gives their son a Ferrari, they won’t forget that they own it” — and that’s essentially the same thing here. No matter what document Trump signs to distance himself (for the time being) away from the company, it will continue to be the “Ferrari” in the back of his mind.
The current “ban” seems to ignore (or simply not recognize) the international — and maybe more importantly, national — implications. Many historians, scholars, and honestly anyone following the news regarding ISIS with a basic understanding of their group, can see that this ban and the inflammatory rhetoric of the Trump administration will have long-lasting negative effects on the way some Muslims view the US, both internationally and here at home. According to Vox, “the Trump administration seems to be sending the message that the US doesn’t care about Muslim suffering” due to the harsh reactions to refugees. This is essentially handing ISIS a free tool for propaganda “to convince Muslims [to]…take up arms and defend Islam” against governments and countries like the United States of America. Of course, this won’t change the vast majority of peaceful Muslims, but it is doing much more harm than good. In the past 16 years since 9/11, there have only been 5 successful foreign-born terrorists that killed a total of 24 Americans (The Atlantic). Not only that, but the administration seems to forget (or dismiss) the fact that over 50% of Muslim Americans associated with violent extremism are born on U.S. soil, and are either converts or born Muslim. Only 24.2% of them account for immigrants, all according to a recent study done on Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism by Charles Kurzman at the University of North Carolina.
During the Obama years, political correctness seemed like “the norm” for us, until the campaign of Donald J. Trump. What seems to happen is being “politically correct” is getting confused with the idea of just being respectful of other people’s ideas and views. Of course, there are times when the idea of being politically correct can be detrimental, like when politicians cannot make progressive changes on an issue because they simply cannot talk about it without hurting some group’s feelings. Conversation is the catalyst for change. But sometimes, people and politicians like Trump can say that they are not in favor of being politically correct, in order to shield themselves from backlash after saying things that are just downright wrong and disrespectful; a kind of “pass” for being ignorant. The way that Trump approaches his rhetoric is dangerous and incites violence. After months of referring to this, literally, as a “Muslim ban”, we’ve now seen his team and himself come out and try to course correct, explaining that the idea of a Muslim ban was created by the media, and the sole purpose of this is to “review the visa insurance process,” after the damage had already been done (The Weekly Standard). Of course, Obama was no saint either (by the standards set by the media for Trump), in fact, Trump is actually planning on “capping refugee admission at 50,000 per year” after the 120-day halt. Obama, to probably the surprise of many, admitted the same amount from 2011–2012, and only unexpectedly increased it to 70,000/year in his final years. Trump is actually on par with the precedent set by Bush and Obama on the amount to let in, for now (National Review). The issue is, more terrorists are being born here than coming from overseas. Trump’s dangerous rhetoric is only hurting the cause.
Not only was Trump’s so-called “ban” implemented in a way that makes no sense from a national security standpoint, but it does the opposite of “keeping Americans safe” — Trump’s biggest issue. The primary benefactors of this travel ban, it seems, will be Trump’s family businesses, the love for him from his fired-up base, and not to mention, the recruitment numbers for ISIS. Trump’s administration ought to begin to understand the effects of his actions — and more importantly, his words — as the leader of the Free World, and begin to look at the real facts, not just the alternative ones.
Trump, D. J. (2017, January 27). EXECUTIVE ORDER: Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states
Overby, P., & Zarroli, J. (2017, January 28). How Does Trump’s Immigration Freeze Square With His Business Interests? Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2017/01/28/511996783/how-does-trumps-immigration-freeze-square-with-his-business-interests
Williams, J. (2017, January 29). Trump’s “Muslim ban” is a huge gift to ISIS. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/world/2017/1/29/14426892/trump-muslim-immigration-refugee-ban-isis-terrorism
Goodman, J. (2017, January 30). US travel ban: Why these seven countries? Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38798588
Friedman, U. (2017, January 30). Where America’s Terrorists Actually Come From. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/trump-immigration-ban-terrorism/514361/
Kurzman, C. (2017, January 26). Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism [Scholarly Research Article]. Retrieved from https://sites.duke.edu/tcths/files/2017/01/Kurzman_Muslim-American_Involvement_in_Violent_Extremism_2016.pdf
Smith, L. (2017, January 29). Not A Muslim Ban. Retrieved from http://www.weeklystandard.com/not-a-muslim-ban/article/2006563?custom_click=rss
French, D. (2017, January 28). Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria. Retrieved from http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444370/donald-trump-refugee-executive-order-no-muslim-ban-separating-fact-hysteria