Let’s pause and figure this problem out

David French argues that “Trump’s order was not signed in a vacuum.”  [Holy cow, that interactive timeline of terror plots since 9/11 is sobering.]

When we know our enemy is seeking to strike America and its allies through the refugee population, when we know they’ve succeeded in Europe, and when the administration has doubts about our ability to adequately vet the refugees we admit into this nation, a pause is again not just prudent but arguably necessary. It is important that we provide sufficient aid and protection to keep refugees safe and healthy in place, but it is not necessary to bring Syrians to the United States to fulfill our vital moral obligations…

Look at the Heritage Foundation’s interactive timeline of Islamist terror plots since 9/11. Note the dramatic increase in planned and executed attacks since 2015. Now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to take a fresh look at our border-control and immigration policies. Trump’s order isn’t a betrayal of American values. Applied correctly and competently, it can represent a promising fresh start and a prelude to new policies that protect our nation while still maintaining American compassion and preserving American friendships.

French parses the actual executive order:

So, what did Trump do? Did he implement his promised Muslim ban? No, far from it. He backed down dramatically from his campaign promises and instead signed an executive order dominated mainly by moderate refugee restrictions and temporary provisions aimed directly at limiting immigration from jihadist conflict zones…

The bottom line is that Trump is improving security screening and intends to admit refugees at close to the average rate of the 15 years before Obama’s dramatic expansion in 2016. Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction.

I think this really gets to it:  do we accept jihadi immigrant terror as a fact of American life, or do we pause and try to figure this out.  Not for nothing, but our “nation of (legal!) immigrants” has, historically, alternated between waves of immigration and pauses to assimilate.

To the extent this ban applies to new immigrant and non-immigrant entry, this temporary halt (with exceptions) is wise. We know that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors. We know that immigrants from Somalia, for example, have launched jihadist attacks here at home and have sought to leave the U.S. to join ISIS.

Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it’s clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat. Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent.

However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.


Charles C. W. Cooke agrees that it makes no sense to treat green card holders poorly:

In a statement this evening, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Trump’s order, which temporarily bars “people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.,” also serves to “bar green card holders.” Or, put another way: Today, the U.S. government decided that being a legal permanent resident of the United States of America accords you no protection from the capricious strokes of the president’s pen. That’s not acceptable.

Green card holders are not citizens — depending on the card and how it was obtained, that honor comes three or five years later. But they’re not bog-standard visa-holders either. Unlike, say, H1B-carriers, permanent residents are expected to live in America by default, and are in fact penalized if they don’t. By law and by expectation, this country is their home; their base; the ground in which their roots are planted. Because of this, permanent residents are able to purchase, own, and carry firearms; they are required to register with the selective service; and they are treated for tax and welfare purposes as are U.S. citizens. They can’t vote or serve on a jury, but, other than, they effectively enjoy all the liberties that natural born Americans enjoy. When they re-enter the country, the agent says “Welcome Home,” which is a big change from their visa days. They are not Americans, and they mustn’t pretend to be. But they are as close as one can get without being one.

He also thinks it’s a political mistake, “the rock, perhaps, on which Trump’s ship is likely to founder.”

By necessity, the stories that will result from this measure are going to be absolutely horrendous. For reasons that are both good and bad, many Americans will carefully tune out the talk of refugees, and yet more will find it hard to care if there are no visas granted to people from countries that are far, far away. But when voters turn on the TV and see a parade of families from Queens who have been detained while checking in for their Emirates flight, the timbre will change upon the instant.

While agreeing with most of the policy, and pointing out Trump is following the precedent set by Obama, Cooke still expects legal fallout:

Again, lest I be misunderstood: I have no issue with the heightened scrutiny of applicants from war-torn or politically unstable regions; I have no problem with the primacy of American values; and if voters wish to use the legislature to limit our future inflows, that’s their prerogative. But to close the door on those who have been granted permission to live here forever? I cannot see the advantage that is gained.

Legally, too, I suspect that Trump is inviting fire down upon his head. …  Is Trump really going to upend the green-card status quo with an ill-drafted executive order? I doubt it.

Instead, he seems intent upon poking the hornets’ nest, and possibly at the expense of his agenda in this realm. Had he stuck to his predecessors’ precedents, he would today be on safe ground. Had he submitted his plans to Congress, for debate and dissent and redrafting, the teething pains might have been significantly lessened. Had he involved his departments before the crisis hit, he would have been able to provide answers that sounded credible to the ear. But he didn’t. He went for broke, regardless of the law and the consequences. And now will come the fallout.


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One Response to Let’s pause and figure this problem out

  1. Paul Marks says:

    I suspect that Ted Cruz would have been more careful in the drafting of the Executive Order, specifically on the Green Card issue, but the principle of restricting the influx of people with a hostile (not just different – actively hostile) system of loyalties, is clearly right – and the reaction of some libertarians in demanding Open Borders (as if hostile forces did not exist) is profoundly depressing.

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