My high school was part of the International Baccalaureate program, which meant that besides the dense amount of work we received, if you took a higher level history class you were required to write an internal assessment about the topic of your choice. I ended up writing a 20 page paper on why the United States took so long to intervene in the Holocaust, and why we had not helped the thousands of Jews attempting to flee Nazi Europe.
I condemned the actions of the United States, citing specific laws put in place by FDR that severely restricted the amount of Jews we would welcome. These past few days, I have had the challenge of confronting what I thought was a double standard. I am a supporter of the temporary 120 day immigration halt made by the executive order of President Trump. More importantly, I am a supporter of the actual decree, not what the media justifies as ‘fact.’
Hysteria has swept not just the nation, but the world, as Trump placed a 120-day immigration ban on seven Muslim majority countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia) in order to ensure that a proper vetting system has been in place. However, according to the media and most liberals, this ban is a ban directly targeted to Muslims.
If this were a ban of Muslims, we would have halted all immigration to all Muslims from any country, whether that be Canada, Turkey, Ethiopia, Germany or any other nation that has a Muslim population. Instead, Trump chose these seven specific countries under the guise of none other than Obama, himself. These seven countries were initially cited as “countries of concern” by the Obama administration and Congress due to the growing threat of terrorist fighters within these areas. According to The Washington Post, in 2011 Obama also had put a six month halt on processing Iraqi refugees entering after two men in Kentucky were found to have terrorist ties after passing through our system. Not to mention, according to the State Department’s official website, a whopping total of 1,682 Syrian refugees were let into the United States in 2015.
Continuing on, after the 120 day ban is over, Trump has capped refugee admissions at 50,000 persons per year, which is not horrible, considering that’s approximately the same amount of refugees admitted during both the Bush and Obama administrations. Still, these components seem generous considering the fact that these seven countries are either ravaged by Jihadists, or have a government heavily influenced by them.
American citizens cannot be so naive as to think that Islamic extremists are not figuring out ways to infiltrate the U.S. through our refugee program. If our system worked so well, we would have never let in the two men with terrorist ties into Kentucky six years ago. To fault the President, as well as millions who agree with him, on putting America’s safety first over taking in refugees is absurd. Yes, we are a country who welcomes immigrants, but we are also obligated to take care of ourselves. Some have called his executive order unconstitutional citing ‘religious persecution that challenges the first amendment.’
However, I choose to interpret the situation differently. The first amendment pertains to people of the U.S., not people of Iran or Syria who want to come here to flee radical Islam. The first amendment pertains to Muslim Americans who are legally allowed here. If the first amendment rights of Muslim Americans were threatened, I would be marching too. However, they are not. Under 8 U.S. Code 1182, the president is allowed to “suspend the entry of all aliens” if they are to be detrimental to the interests of the United States. Combined with the mere fact that places like Iran are known to support organizations like Hamas, I would say Trump has clear grounds to dictate that a temporary ban must be enacted in order to ensure that our vetting system is up to date and can handle large influxes of immigrants from countries that are heavily influenced by rhetoric that basically despises America.
The practice of placing temporary bans on immigrants is not a new practice of 2017. Rather, it is a practice done by past presidents, such as Obama and Jimmy Carter who, during the hostage crisis, banned Iranians and Shiite Muslims from entering the United States, and even had the FBI re-evaluate those who were already here. Just as Trump’s order pertains to the countries as a whole, Carter’s orders did the same.
While it is heartbreaking to watch the news and hear about the devastating acts being committed, I stand first and foremost with the safety of the United States, and so if that be revamping our vetting system for X amount of time, I throw my support behind that order 100 percent. The reason I am able to differentiate between the Holocaust immigration ban and this ban are for the simple fact that this ban is temporary, it is not directed towards one group of people and we are doing it in order to make sure our vetting system is as safe as possible.
Brianna Lyman, FCRH ’20, is an international political economy major from Dobbs Ferry, NY.