President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and refugees has been both praised and scorned by people from every corner of the political arena. What’s unfortunate, however, is that the majority of people on both the Right and the Left simply have their facts wrong.
The Left’s Fault
Where to even start? Rhetoric and politics have complicated yet another issue into an utter cluster… well, you know which suffix I want to use here.
First, their catchphrase, #MuslimBan, is dishonest. The order’s language suggests no such permanence, and does prohibit any specific religious group. But we must give protesters a break here, because “#TemporarySuspensionOfEntryOfImmigrantsFromSevenOfTheSeventeenLargestMuslimMajorityCountriesForNationalSecurityReasons” is not a prudent hashtag.
Seriously, though, using the words “Muslim ban” is nothing more than a ploy for accruing political capital. If only people would read the President’s order, they would realize that all people, even Christians and other religious minorities, such as the Baha’is of Iran, are barred from entry for the next 120 days!
Here’s the bottom line: they don’t dwell on details because details put narratives to bed. Also, I guess “Read an executive order” doesn’t look as nice on a resume for MoveOn.org as “Protested an executive order.”
The Right’s Fault
President Trump and Co. don’t get off the hook here, either.
The order was unmerited, at least on the basis Trump’s administration provided. People have not been pouring into this country, unknown to intelligence agencies, as he has suggested over and over. That is false.
It also cites 9/11’s attackers, who seeped through State Department cracks, but clearly much has changed since 2001. It is extremely difficult to get into the United States as both an immigrant and as a refugee. The Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Defense, and our intelligence agencies work diligently to share information, so that they are able to vet thoroughly. One does not simply march down to the street from his home and apply to be a refugee.
But don’t take my word for it: Steve Legomsky, who served as a chief counselor at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Obama administration, described the refugee vetting process on Laura Ingraham’s show last week. By now, it’s common political knowledge that the refugee screening process takes two years, but most don’t know what specifically happens during those two years. They include multiple interviews of the candidates, forensic examination of every document presented by the candidates, all of which occur before arrival into the U.S. is permitted. Then, upon arrival, the candidate is interviewed again, apparently before he or she can leave the airport.
Also, the roll out of this order was as poor as that of healthcare.gov. Security officials had to repeatedly call the White House for clarification, while approved, visa-carrying travelers were detained and not permitted to enter.
Not only that, many who were at or near the end of the two-year process may have to start all over again. In an email to volunteers, Mary Katherine Sullivan, the state refugee coordinator with Catholic Social Services in Alabama, said this:
Cases booked for travel to the US have been wiped off the grid and will inevitably have to start the resettlement process over due to expiration of visas, medical examinations, etc. RRP (refugee resettlement program) had 16 individuals scheduled to arrive this month, but were denied travel.
That is an outrage.
Ours and the President’s Obligation
I’ve seen the struggles faced by refugees personally. When I moved to Mobile, AL, in 2014, I started volunteering with refugee resettlement, teaching English. I have taught students from all over the world, including some from Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, three of the countries listed in the order. They explained the difficulties of applying for refugee status. In case of one Iranian couple, they had to flee to Turkey first, where there was a stable refugee camp and embassy service.
Nobody seems to believe that the United States can care about security and compassion simultaneously. That is the discussion we need to be having, but it can’t happen as long as the Left distorts the contents of President Trump’s order and the Right believes that people are pouring in, unvetted.
Until reason prevails, both sides will be to blame for the downward-spiraling state of affairs stemming from this executive order–and there will be real human costs.