At least, it shouldn’t be. We are, at this moment, treating people who waited months or even years for an opportunity to come to the US as criminals.
Trump’s ban on immigration from certain “high-risk” countries is in effect, and is already causing harm. Who is it harming?
- Students, academics, professionals, and visitors who filed the required paperwork, were vetted by the Department of State and the FBI (at least), and were approved for legal entrance into this country.
- Refugee families fleeing poverty, oppression, war, and persecution.
- Individuals that put themselves and their families at risk supporting US military operations, who were no longer safe in their home countries because of the assistance they provided.
- Lawful Permanent Residents, who live in the US but may have been abroad on business or vacation.
Customs and Border Protection, in implementing Trump’s Executive Order, either turned these people away or detained them at their respective airports. I do not mean to demonize the people at CBP; they are doing as they have been instructed, and I’m sure most could not afford to quit in protest. (Though, for consideration, I might offer that if enough of them refused to carry out the directive it might get more attention than a protest. Perhaps there could be an argument related to the interpretation of the order as not applying to previously approved visas and immigration benefits.)
What is most upsetting about this ridiculous order is how absurdly random the process for determining the countries has been. Even if the countries are experiencing extraordinarily disruptive events, and even if there are bad actors know to operate in these countries, that does not mean that the risk is inherent in every individual within the country. Two things are important to note: we have a robust vetting process (contrary to Trump’s continued assertions that we have no vetting process), and no immigrant from any of the countries on the ban list has been carried out a terror attack in the US.
If Trump wants to target a genuine vulnerability then he could put a moratorium on the Visa waiver Program. A fake passport can put a nefarious actor claiming to be from a friendly European nation on a flight to the US with no vetting at all. If there is a genuine security concern about a terror group infiltrating the US, this mechanism would be far easier than waiting for years in the hopes of being approved as a refugee, or trying to get a fake passport by the US DoS.
This is going to lead to what we call second- and third-order-effects, likely in the form of reciprocal bans on travel by other countries (Iran has already announced their intent to implement a travel ban), and in the form of higher risks to US travelers abroad as they interact with foreigners who have been directly or indirectly impacted by this action.
Please, contact your state representatives and governor, contact your congressional representatives, contact CBP, contact the white house (if there is still a channel to do so), and SHOW UP at the affected airports to show solidarity with those who come to this country legally seeking opportunity,a better life, a better education, or just a visit to Disneyland.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
(Emily Lazarus, The New Colossus)
Remind the world that this is not who we are.