The sober and logical reasons for President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and visitors are rising above the noise after an evening of hysterical over-reactions and emotional meltdowns on the nation’s TV networks.
Advocates of sane, secure immigration policy have long noted that it’s almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion of the refugee and immigration issues, because it’s been sentimentalized and politicized beyond the realm of rational thought.
This weekend brings them another superb example of media-magnified shrieking about fascism, bleating about “white nationalists,” howling about “religious persecution,” false invocations of the Constitution, and theatrical sobbing on behalf of the Statue of Liberty.
For readers who want to wallow in the emotion, examples can be found in this handy dossier of hysteria compiled by the Washington Post. But clear-eyed adults prefer to examine plain facts about Trump’s executive order:
1. It is NOT a “Muslim ban.” You will search the Executive Order in vain for mentions of Islam, or any other religion. By Sunday morning, the media began suffering acute attacks of honesty and writing headlines such as “Trump’s Latest Executive Order: Banning People From 7 Countries and More” (CNN) and printing the full text of the order.
Granted, CNN still slips the phrase “Muslim-majority countries” into every article about the order, including the post in which they reprinted its text in full, but CNN used the word “Muslim,” not Trump. The order applies to all citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. It does not specify Muslims. The indefinite hold on Syrian refugees will affect Christians and Muslims alike.
As Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner points out, the largest Muslim-majority countries in the world are not named in the Executive Order.
More countries may be added to the moratorium in the days to come, as the Secretary of Homeland Security has been instructed to complete a 30-day review of nations that don’t provide adequate information for vetting visa applicants.
It’s also noteworthy that the ban is not absolute. Exceptions for “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” are expressly made in the order. The Departments of State and Homeland Security can also grant exceptions 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.”
There is a provision in the Executive Order that says applications based on religious persecution will be prioritized “provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”
This has been denounced as a “stealth Muslim ban” by some of the very same people who were conspicuously silent when the Obama administration pushed Christians – who the most savagely persecuted minority in the Middle East, with only the Yazidis offering real competition — to the back of the migration line.
2. The order is based on security reviews conducted by President Barack Obama’s deputies. As White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pointed out on “Fox News Sunday,” the seven nations named in Trump’s executive order are drawn from the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015. The 2015 “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” named Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Syria, while its 2016 update added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
“These are countries that have a history of training, harboring, exporting terrorists. We can’t keep pretending and looking the other way,” said Conway.
3. The moratorium is largely temporary. Citizens of the seven countries named as security risks are banned from entering the United States for the next 90 days. Refugee processing is halted for 120 days. The longest-lived aspect of the ban may prove to be the halt on Syrian refugees, but that isn’t given a time frame at all. It will last “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,” as President Trump wrote.
4. Obama banned immigration from Iraq, and Carter banned it from Iran.
“Fact-checking” website PolitiFact twists itself into knots to avoid giving a “true” rating to the absolutely true fact that Jimmy Carter banned Iranian immigration in 1980, unless applicants could prove they were enemies of the Khomenei theocracy.
One of Politifact’s phony talking points states that Carter “acted against Iranian nationals, not an entire religion.” As noted above, Trump’s Executive Order is precisely the same – it does not act against an “entire religion,” it names seven countries.
As for Barack Obama, he did indeed ban immigration from Iraq, for much longer than Trump’s order bans it from the seven listed nations, and none of the people melting down today uttered a peep of protest. Richard Grenell summed it up perfectly in a Tweet:
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 29, 2017
5. Trump’s refugee caps are comparable to Obama’s pre-2016 practices: David French, who was touted as a spoiler candidate to keep Donald Trump out of the White House during the presidential campaign – in other words, not a big Trump fan – wrote a lengthy and clear-headed analysis of the Executive Order for National Review. He noted that after the moratorium ends in 120 days, Trump caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year… which is roughly the same as President Obama’s admissions in 2011 and 2012, and not far below the 70,000 per year cap in place from 2013 to 2015.
Obama had fairly low caps on refugees during the worst years of the Syrian civil war. He didn’t throw open the doors to mass refugee admissions until his final year in office. Depending on how Trump’s review of Syrian refugee policy turns out, he’s doing little more than returning admissions to normal levels after a four-month pause for security reviews.
6. The Executive Order is legal: Those invoking the Constitution to attack Trump’s order are simply embarrassing themselves. The President has clear statutory authority to take these actions. As noted, his predecessors did so, without much controversy.
Most of the legal arguments against Trump’s order summarized by USA Today are entirely specious, such as attacking him for “banning an entire religion,” which the order manifestly does not do. Critics of the order have a political opinion that it will in effect “ban Muslims,” but that’s not what it says. Designating specific nations as trouble spots and ordering a pause is entirely within the President’s authority, and there is ample precedent to prove it.
It should be possible to argue with the reasoning behind the order, or argue that it will have negative unintended consequences, without advancing hollow legal arguments. Of course, this is America 2017, so a wave of lawsuits will soon be sloshing through the courts.
7. This Executive Order is a security measure, not an arbitrary expression of supposed xenophobia. Conway stressed the need to enhance immigration security from trouble spots in her “Fox News Sunday” interview. French also addressed the subject in his post:
When we know our enemy is seeking to strike America and its allies through the refugee population, when we know they’ve succeeded in Europe, and when the administration has doubts about our ability to adequately vet the refugees we admit into this nation, a pause is again not just prudent but arguably necessary. It is important that we provide sufficient aid and protection to keep refugees safe and healthy in place, but it is not necessary to bring Syrians to the United States to fulfill our vital moral obligations.
French’s major objection to the Executive Order is that applying it to green-card holders is “madness,” but unfortunately many of the terrorists who attacked Americans during the Obama years were green-card holders. Daniel Horowitz and Chris Pandolfo addressed that subject at Conservative Review:
Both liberals and conservatives expressed concern over hundreds of individuals going over to fight for ISIS. We are already limited in how we can combat this growing threat among U.S. citizens. Given that it is completely legal to exclude non-citizens upon re-entry, Trump extended the ban to legal permanent residents as well.
If a Somali refugee is travelling back to Somalia (so much for credible fear of persecution!), government officials should have the ability to prevent that person from coming back when necessary. Obviously, there are some individuals from these seven countries who already have green cards and we might not want to exclude. That is why the order grants discretion to the State Department to issue case-by-case exemptions for “religious persecution, “or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship.” A CBP agent is always stationed at any international airport from which these individuals would board a direct flight to the United States (Paris and Dubai, for example). That individual would not allow anyone covered by this ban onto a U.S.-bound flight unless he grants them a hardship exemption.
Indeed, it appears that green card holders returning yesterday from those seven countries were all granted entry.
Because he is a progressive globalist, Obama deliberately blinded us to security threats, in the name of political correctness and left-wing ideology. Ninety or 120 days isn’t much time for Trump to turn all that around, especially because it is unlikely much will change in the seven countries Trump named.
The hysterical reaction to Trump’s order illustrates the very thing that worries advocates of strong immigration security: Americans’ security is the lowest priority, far below progressive ideology, crass political opportunism, and emotional theater.
We’re being effectively told by the theatrical class to tolerate a certain amount of Islamic terrorism because their feelings would be hurt by the tough measures we need protest ourselves from a tough enemy. But this time, President Trump is proving tough enough to push our security up into the top priority.