President Trump’s executive order to halt immigration from several Middle East countries comes at the same time Americans are learning of Syrians who may have slipped through the cracks.
The Los Angeles Times reports the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are reinvestigating several dozen Syrian refugees who have already resettled in the United States after derogatory information surfaced that may have disqualified them from entering the country. This development should come as no surprise since the government never had the capacity to handle such a task. President Obama admitted 15,479 Syrian refugees last year alone, an increase of over 600 percent from 2015. And the U.S. government has accepted more than 18,000 Syrians seeking asylum since the civil war began in their home country.
Those on the front lines should be commended for having to execute such a momentous and ultimately impossible order at the behest of an administration oddly intent on forcing through an inordinate amount of people from an area teeming with militant Islamists. The composition of the refugee population raises additional questions since nearly 99 percent of those admitted in 2016 were Muslim, out of a country where Christians make up approximately 10 percent of the population. All of this as jihadists repeatedly proclaimed their intent to embed fighters in refugee populations.
It’s hard to tune out conspiracy theorists while watching this unfold. But let’s give the former administration the benefit of the doubt. At best, this strategy told the American public that their safety came in second to that of the refugees, and that the Obama administration had determined, internally, some acceptable level of risk.
In essence, the administration and its supporters cannot deny the potential danger so they instead favored charity in light of the threat. They determined that welcoming of thousands in need of a better life outweighed the potential for American deaths. But how did they quantify that? Was there a minimal threshold of casualties? France had favorable risk probabilities. But now, 1,071 people have died or were injured between 2015 and 2016, partly due to its immigration policies.
The last gasp of justification I heard before the transition between administrations came from a misguided soul who pointed out that the Statue of Liberty says to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” I gently reminded her that Lady Liberty and the words inscribed on the bronze plaque adorning her base have no constitutional authority. I then recalled for her the irony that the statue was a gift from France ?? the very country that faces a crisis in security as a result of its immigration policies.
Enter President Trump. He has temporarily suspended new immigration from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. But the Heritage Foundation published an interactive list of 93 terrorist plots and attacks in the United States since 9-11 back in September 2015 and a majority of those suspects were Pakistani. Several were even Uzbeks and Afghans. That trend has continued. If the objective was to stop the massive Syria influx, then do that. If the objective was immigration threats in general, the president should have modified the list to reflect the threat. Instead, we have mass panic from those who were silent about the same issue for eight years (no surprise) and a negligible improvement to American security.
Trump’s immigration freeze is an overcorrection to what many see as a terrible policy authored by the Obama administration. His strategy for governing cannot be driven purely by a desire to repudiate the last president’s policies. Obama did that with Bush and disaster ensued.
Nevertheless, the two reactions explain two different realities – the United States was expected to endure the threat from militant Islam under former President Obama. The United States is expected to prevail under President Trump. That’s at least a good start.