Monday, February 24, 2020
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Trump bars certain immigrants

One word for writers of civics textbooks: rewrite. President Donald Trump just canceled a 51-year-old immigration law. Today he signed an executive order that will significantly reduce the number of Muslims given entry to the US, either as refugees or immigrants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Speaking from the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, the president said the order would keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the US. Specifically, Christians who are fleeing persecution will be given priority by the US, and Muslim immigrants will be cut back.

For 90 days after the order takes effect, no one may enter the US as an immigrant or refugee from seven predominantly Muslim countries:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Somalia

  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

The order (full text) also halts immigration from Syria indefinitely. The other bans will only be in effect for a few months under the current order, intended to give the US time to strengthen its immigration procedures.

“We don’t want ′em here,” the president said, referring to radical Islamic terrorists. “We want to make sure we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country, and love deeply our people.”

The measure will effectively end the refugee program in the US, which has been running for decades and was continued under President Barack Obama, the New York Times reports.

Mr Trump claimed in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christians from certain countries, who are being “horribly treated,” referring to documented persecution, had a much more difficult time entering the US than Muslims from those countries. In fact, the US admitted almost as many Christians as Muslims in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, both numbers being around 38,000.

However, the center also reported that the number of Muslims admitted to the US in 2016 hit an all-time high.

This executive order seems tailored to reverse that situation, but its side effects aren’t yet known. Some consider the action hasty; others consider it illegal or pernicious. The American Civil Liberties Union described the “extreme vetting” in the order as a “euphemism for discriminating against Muslims.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, but under executive order, the US has now closed its border to people based entirely on their country of origin.

In addition, the order seems to forget the many Muslims in these countries who have helped US soldiers and diplomats. The move is certain to alienate them to a certain extent, although it is also possible that providing assistance for refugees in their homeland will serve a better purpose for both the US and the predominantly Muslim countries named in the order.

  • A lesson from Sweden: “We’ve taken in too many people, and we have let them down badly, especially the children.”
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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