If you’ve been on social media at all lately, you’ve no doubt heard various reporters, political pundits and celebrities lose their collective minds over the recent executive order enacted by President Trump regarding foreign entry into the U.S.
Many in the media, such as the New York Times editorial board, have used the term “Muslim Ban” to describe the executive order, so much so that it’s become a trending hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.
Many have flooded airports and public streets in protest and Seattle judge James Robart recently put a halt to the order. With the future of the executive order uncertain, all these people in outrage should instead calm down, take a few deep breaths, disregard what their favorite celebrities such as George Takei say and really look into what this executive order actually entails.
I feel the need to make a disclaimer here and say that I am sympathetic to the majority of refugees and immigrants coming into this country. Many are fleeing persecution and genuinely want to have a better life here in the United States. Those who say this law could have been implemented better are not wrong and the stories of refugees being halted in airports are sad.
That being said, I want to make sure admission is done in an effective way that avoids some of the pitfalls that can occur in this complex and difficult process. The debate about refugees is complex, intricate and much more than simply “love vs. hate.”
The executive order in question, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”, is a temporary measure, recently put in place, to limit movement of people from a selection of high-risk countries while vetting processes are reviewed. The order restricts travel from seven specific countries for 90 days and refugee travel for 120 days. The countries in question are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia.
To put it bluntly, this is not a “Muslim Ban,” not anything close. Anyone saying so is contributing to alleged epidemic of “fake news” that has been proliferating recently. Roughly 85 percent of Muslims in the world are not affected by this measure.
According to the Pew Research Center, out of the top ten countries with the biggest population of Muslims, only one out of that top ten is listed in the executive order: Iran. The rest—Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria and Morocco—are nowhere to be found in the executive order. If Trump really wanted to ban all Muslims, then this order fell quite short by only affecting potentially roughly 12 percent of the Muslim population.
But there is no question that the countries listed in this travel ban are majority Muslim countries, so many would still argue that this order is still a “Muslim Ban”. But this line of thought is also factually incorrect. The countries listed were not randomly chosen by Trump or his cabinet for being Muslim. In fact, these countries were listed as “countries of concern” for terrorist activity under the Obama administration. A 2016 report by the Department of Homeland Security listed Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya as countries that posted the highest risk to the U.S. in terms of terrorists coming from those countries.
Regardless of any attempt to tie this order to the recent terrorist attack in Canada via guilt by association, or any “he said, she said” you might hear in the media, the only thing that matters legally is the actual wording of the executive order, and the wording of which is formed based on terrorist threat, not religion.
Finally, this executive order is not a permanent ban on refugees. It’s a temporary measure while current vetting procedures for foreigners such as refugees are reviewed. Once changes are made, up to 50 thousand refugees can be allowed into the U.S. in the fiscal year 2017, which is not an unspeakably low number when compared to refugee admissions in the mid 2000’s.
Beyond the scope of terrorist threat, vetting of refugees should not only include terrorist threats, but also check for views that are contrary to basic human rights. While the majority of refugees fleeing from persecution are peaceful, some come to western countries with views that are contrary to the basic human rights we take for granted. One needs to look no farther than to how the European Union has handled refugees.
On New Years Eve 2016, mass reports of rape and sexual assault on women were reported in multiple German cities such as Cologne. Officials estimated that more than 1,200 women were assaulted by approximately 2,000 male suspects. According to the Washington Post article, “Leaked document says 2,000 men allegedly assaulted 1,200 German women on New Year’s Eve, ” German officials such as Germany’s president of the Federal Crime Police office, Holger Münch, have since linked to the attacks to abnormally high numbers of refugees recently admitted into the country. “There is a connection between the emergence of this phenomenon and the rapid migration in 2015,” Münch said.
Unfortunately, due to events such as the ones in Germany, a slew of laws restricting religious freedom have been passed in Europe. Countries such as France, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and various local cities have passed laws banning various Muslim headdresses including the niqab and burka.
Not only were the rights of the women in various German cities violated due to lax vetting, but the rights of the peaceful refugees in Europe are now also being violated in response to the attacks. We in the United States must provide more rigorous vetting to prevent humans rights violations such as these, for citizens and refugees.
My point isn’t that the order is absolutely perfect. But I and a lot of Americans would argue that regulation of entry into this country is a small price to pay for security and freedom.
The ideas behind it aren’t extreme. The idea of holding back the flow of people into our country from dangerous areas of the world for a few months is not extreme. The idea of reviewing vetting for refugees to make sure they’re effective is not extreme. The idea of wanting to keep America safe from foreign terrorist threats is not extreme.
Despite all the security measures put in place, the U.S. is still at threat from terrorist attacks like the ones in San Bernardino, Orlando, Fort Hood, Ohio State, Boston and others. As long as terrorism exists in the world, regardless of the ideology behind it, it is in the United States’ best interest to protect all its citizens, including law abiding Muslims, from attacks.
The entire controversy around the order shows why a bunch of Americans don’t trust the mainstream media anymore. The real scandal here is not the executive order itself, but how the media blew up the issue into something it wasn’t.
Indeed, despite all the outrage the media has tried to push, you probably haven’t even heard the fact that the majority of Americans-57 percent of likely voters-support this executive order, according to a poll from Rasmussen Reports. Furthermore, an additional poll done by Reuters/Ipsos also found more support than opposition for Trump’s move, with 49 percent of Americans approving and 41 percent disapproving.
The mainstream media would rather be fearmongers than simply give both sides a fair hearing. And when the other side could in fact be the majority, yet the media twists its message to dismiss the majority outright, then they’ve got a real problem of accurately covering a complex debate.