I can’t think of a more controversial issue plaguing the U.S. news these days than Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban for seven countries deemed to be a potential threat to U.S. security. Protestors and pundits all have their opinions. A Federal judge has “undone” the ban and President Trump is trying to “redo” the ban. Tomorrow (or later today), we’ll probably enjoy a new round of legal opinions about who gets to come into the U.S. and who gets to stay home. Here are some things think about regarding this issue:
The Roll Out of the Travel Ban:
The roll out was undeniably sloppy. There was a lack of communication, a lack of coordination and overall confusion. Authorities weren’t sure who was allow to come into the U.S. and who wasn’t. To be sure, those who held Green Cards, signifying permanent residence should not have been part of the ban at all. In addition, those who helped the US military in places like Iraq and Afghanistan should also have been granted entrance. But this is exactly what happens when you‘re implementing all of your presidential promises as quickly as possible – mistakes happen. To their credit, most of the confusion was cleared up within 24 hours.
Is This a Muslim Ban?
No. If the ban were a Muslims ban, then additional countries would have also been banned. As it stands, more than 85% of Muslims are not affected by the ban. The seven countries currently being banned (Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen) are a collection of failed states, countries that export terror, countries where individuals are impossible to vet properly or countries where terror organizations have a large stake in the country. In other words, places that pose a potentially serious threat to the safety of America.
If I were to make any argument against the ban, it would be that not enough countries are listed – where’s Saudi Arabia? Afghanistan? Pakistan?
Is the Threat from these Countries Real?
If you take the word of U.S. intelligence agencies, the threat is real. If you take the word of organizations like ISIS, who state that they will use the confusion surrounding the current refugee crisis to infiltrate Western countries, the threat is real. And if you take the word of 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the threat is real. According to Dr. James Mitchell, a man who personally interrogated KSM, the terrorist predicted that the very openness and civil liberties of the West were “gifts from god” that would be used by terrorists to infiltrate Western countries and institute Shariah Law. Dr. Mitchell says that “political correctness allows them to operate in our midst without being challenged.”
Is the Ban Unconstitutional?
Some Federal judges would like to think so, but no, the ban is not unconstitutional. Past presidents have taken similar actions a number of times when foreign actors were considered to be a threat to America. According to immigration law expert from the Heritage Foundation, Hans Van Spakovsky, there is no constitutional issue with this ban – not even a federal issue. Van Spokovsky says that Congress has given the U.S. President broad discretion when it comes to issues of immigration and keeping the U.S. safe. Van Spokovsky referred to the statute that Trump references in his executive order: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
Do Immigrants have Constitutional Rights?
No foreigner has a constitutional right to come to the U.S. (Yes, once someone is in the U.S., they do enjoy some constitutional protections, but not a right to enter.) By the same token, I do not have the “right” to enter another nation without complying with that country’s entry requirements and following the limits of my visa. Two weeks ago I was detained in Baghdad for three hours because of a small mistake on my entry visa (made by the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, D.C.) No one organized protests for me or offered me free legal services because of my situation. I had to sort it out through a combination of wit and charm – but I was not granted entry into another country because it was my “right.”
What About the U.S.’s Historic Role of Helping Refugees?
The United States is a unique place – there is no place like it on earth. We are not a perfect nation, but we are a generous nation and a nation that recognizes that freedom does not come from men or governments, but from God. But America works best when people come here who want to be “American.” Who want to assimilate into our culture, learn English and embrace our values of freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are those who hate our way of life and would bring us harm if they had the opportunity. Just take a look at what’s happened in Germany, France, Belgium and Sweden – all due to their immigration and assimilation policies.
Compassion must be balanced with wisdom – and wisdom dictates that the world can be a very dangerous place – not a paralyzing place, but a place where caution should be employed. And if that caution involves a temporary ban on the entry of people from some regions of the world who cannot offer reasonable information and assurances as to who they are and their background, then wisdom, in the interest of protecting the actual citizens of the U.S. would say that it’s best to slow some things down and figure out a way to vet people from these difficult places and work closely with governments who are willing to work closely with us.
And if your compassion for others indicates that this is too slow a process, I invite you to join me – when I go to several of these “banned” countries and bring leadership and business training to students and young professionals and invest in their personal education and development. There are lots of ways of helping the world – not just immigration.