Arguments of “overreaction” to immigration order still fall short
President Trump’s executive order to ban immigration from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen for the next 90 to 120 days has been decried throughout the country, and the world, as a deeply flawed, unconstitutional and un-American policy. With scores of refugees seeking asylum now barred from U.S. airports, and green-card holders hanging on by their fingernails, it is hard not to see the policy as a heavy-handed and ill-conceived violation of human rights.
Some would make the argument that because the ban covers only seven of the 50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world, that it cannot be labeled as a Muslim ban. It is instead, a restriction on immigration from countries supposedly predisposed to terrorism.
Further arguments for the ban point out that religious-vetting is nothing new for our immigration system.
Plus, it’s only 120 days, and it’s just to reconsider the vetting structure. After that, the administration might resume normal procedure, perhaps without seismic change to the way in which the U.S. processes immigrants. This may be some “fake news” designed to gear people against the President.
I wish these arguments were valid reason not to worry, but they are ignorant of context and miss the central point: The ban is innately discriminatory and generalizing, and the existence of a precedent within federal law, rather than disproving this, actually reinforces it.
Just because the ban only applies to seven predominantly Muslim countries, it does not magically become non-discriminating.
The policy is still presuming that all people from these countries are radicalized and dangerous. It does not account for the individuality and diversity of these countries. The Trump Administration has ceased to view these populations as made up of individual human beings, and have labeled them as an innately dangerous horde.
The U.S. has always vetted people on the grounds of religion, as well as other stipulations that might not be seen as “politically correct.” But, is something okay just because it’s been done in the past? With that logic, you could justify almost anything! There’s a federal precedent for putting Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, despite their having no connection to the Japanese government. There’s a federal precedent for considering a black person as 3/5 of a human being. There’s a precedent for slavery, for segregation, and for the imprisonment of huge scores of black people. Then, there’s all the discriminatory precedents left over from the post-9/11 period, when we falsely imprisoned Middle Eastern people based on virtually no evidence, and continue to hold and torture them, without hope of a trial, at Guantanamo Bay to this day.
So pardon me if I’m not particularly comforted.
And yes, this ban has been said to be a temporary measure through which the White House will decide upon a more effective strategy for vetting immigration. However, considering that the current administration is made up of hard-right nationalists, it is doubtful that any conclusion the Trump administration comes to will be good for brown people wishing to immigrate to the U.S.
These arguments and policies continue to play into the false narrative the Trump administration continues to propagate: that the real United States, is inherently white and Christian.
But, we factually are a country made up of immigrants. White people came here from a foreign continent. White people came to escape religious persecution. White people came here from war-torn and unstable parts of the world.
So let’s stop pretending this is about practicality and address the fact that Trump and others in his camp do not see people who are not white as truly American.
In addition, this ban has been extraordinarily harmful to foreign relations and the prevention of the spread of extremism. By blocking moderates and leaving them with no other options, we push them into the arms of radicals who will use this policy as an example of how America seeks to destroy Islam.
We should also address the fact that Steve Bannon, a vocal white-supremacist, has been appointed to the National Security Council, a department that operates with little to no accountability and has the power to make people it dislikes disappear. This is what should scare you to death, not a refugee family.
The majority of terrorist acts in the United States have been committed by white, Christian, men. Should we then deport all of them? Should we vet and track them, make them register, put them in internment camps?
No, they’re white, and so they’re American. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done, because they are white, we see them as individuals.
You can make the argument that this immigration ban is just like having a buzzer on your apartment, that you can look through the peep-hole and choose who you let into your home, and that the same principle applies on a national level. You can believe that, but is considering every white person at your door individually, while turning away someone who looks otherwise seem fair and unbiased? How does “I don’t let anyone who’s brown and Muslim into my apartment, no matter what, just in case” really sound to you?
It sounds like an overreaction to me, but who knows?
Maybe I’m just paranoid.