Much of the coverage of President Trump’s executive order on immigration fails to mention an important paragraph that lays out the purpose of improving the visa issuance process:
In order to protect Americans, the United States must 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.
That’s a considerably broader mission statement than “don’t admit terrorists.”
Virtually the only passage from the “Purpose” section of the order quoted by critics is the part that says: “While the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.” They quote it only so that they can make snarky observations that no one from the seven nations currently affected by the EO has carried out a terrorist attack.
The vision behind Trump’s reform of the visa process goes beyond intercepting violent terrorists. Later in the order, the President directs the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General to begin publishing reports every 180 days on:
- The number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons.
- The number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States.
- The number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals.
- The immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.
Only the first of those two groups are terrorists and terrorist supporters. It’s interesting that the new President would need to order the collection of hard data on radicalization, since the federal government has supposedly been studying radicalization and “violent extremism” intensely for years.
The fourth report will produce hard data on the illegal-alien crime our previous administration went to such great lengths to avoid discussing, perhaps because they feared the bigoted xenophobes out in flyover country would get too worked up over murders and rapes committed by criminals who have been deported four or five times.
The third report is where this gets interesting. One would think our friends on the Left would be very interested in cracking down on “gender-based violence against women,” including “honor killings” and similar violence that comes up short of murder. They’ve been loudly declaring themselves opposed to religious persecution, now that it’s not Barack Obama forcing celibate nuns to pay for contraception, or devout Christians to perform services at gay weddings.
Presumably there would be broad agreement that female genital mutilation constitutes “gender-based violence against women.” Should we be screening out visa applicants who support FGM?
It does happen to women in the United States, although they’re evidently sent back to their home countries to undergo the procedure. In fact, the first report on FGM in a decade was published in 2015, and it suggested the practice had more than doubled since the previous report, with over half a million women and girls at risk. Immigration from African and Middle Eastern countries where FGM is a “deeply entrenched cultural tradition” was blamed for the increase.
“Honor killings,” in which women are brutalized for actions that “dishonor” their families, also occur in the United States. Assaults that stop short of murder are a problem as well, and even more difficult to keep track of. Critics have spoken of an institutional bias against recognizing Islamic honor violence as such, for reasons we broadly describe as “political correctness.”
A study quoted by Fox News last year said the number of outright honor killings in the U.S. was small—23 to 27 per year—but 91 percent of the victims were murdered for being “too Westernized.”
“And for every honor killing, there are many more instances of physical and emotional abuse, all in the name of fundamentalist Islam,” the Fox report added, citing experts who listed physical and emotional abuse, rape, kidnapping, forced marriage, and the above-mentioned female genital mutilations as non-lethal examples. Men are sometimes victimized as well, especially gay men.
“In sharp contrast with domestic violence, families and communities often condone honor violence, which makes it more difficult to identify and stop,” Stephanie Baric of the AHA Foundation stated.
Of course, not all Muslim immigrants condone such behavior. Many of them are fleeing from it. That’s precisely the point: improving our screening process to prevent “communities” that condone socially undesirable or threatening behavior from forming.
A rather chilly New York Times profile of people who support President Trump’s executive order—who seem to be a majority, although polls differ on how large the majority is—portrayed them as easily-panicked goobers manipulated by their emotional over-reaction to terrorism. The article included this remarkable editorial non-sequitur: “A vast majority of killings overall happen at the hands of native-born Americans.”
In other words, as long as gang-bangers are blowing people away in Chicago, it’s irrational to worry about terrorism? Not only is that absurd on its face, but it ignores the fact that immigrants are the one group of people our society can effectively screen. We can only do so much about the native-born, but we can be very picky about who we let into the country.
We can try to screen out supporters of female genital mutilation, for example, so the at-risk population of women doesn’t double in ten years. We can look for the people fleeing sharia tyranny, not the people who want to bring it with them. We can look for factors conducive to radicalization, and try to block the radicalizers. Our efforts won’t be perfect, naturally, but that doesn’t mean the current vetting system cannot be substantially improved.
The prevailing Beltway mindset until now has been that melting-pot magic sterilizes immigrants of their social ills. Bring them all in, as fast as we can, and let a few years of basking in America’s tolerant culture bleach those troublesome ideologies away! A related belief is that sustained exposure to American culture will cure foreign nations of authoritarianism. Neither of those beliefs has much in the way of actual evidence to sustain it.
It’s a continuing source of puzzlement that liberals who profess to despise American culture, and think Americans have no right to judge anyone else, also think any number of immigrants, from anywhere in the world, can be swiftly assimilated merely by setting foot on U.S. soil.
In truth, numbers matter, the background of individual immigrants is important, and the “communities” waiting for them when they arrive will have a profound effect on their assimilation experience. If we develop a better system for finding the immigrants who truly wish to become American, rather than merely coming to America, we can handle more of them, and process their applications more efficiently. We can all agree that we desire immigrants who want no part of forced marriages, honor violence, abuse of homosexuals, religious intolerance, or sharia supremacy… can’t we?
What an epilogue to the saga of President Trump’s executive order it would be, if next year finds the U.S. issuing more visas, following the conclusion of the 90-day pause for the seven problematic nations identified by the Obama administration.