Foreign Policy Blogs

Dismantling Trump’s Immigration Lies: The Travel Ban

The Trump team has been pushing false rhetoric regarding immigrants since the moment Trump announced his candidacy in 2015. Starting with his infamous “they’re rapists” comment at his candidacy announcement speech to his call for a “complete and total shutdown of all Muslims entering the United States,” Trump has made it abundantly clear that one of the core parts of his platform was going to be cracking down on illegal and legal immigration.

The latter issue he went after with the “travel” ban. The original ban most notably prohibited people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia from entering the United States for 90 days while also placing new restrictions on the US’s ability to accept refugees. The ban’s stated purpose and title was “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The lunacy of the Supreme Court decision to uphold a watered down version of the ban a year later (ignoring the ridiculous conflict of interest in the case as Neil Gorsuch, who voted for Trump, was appointed by the petitioner himself) and the flawed logic of the original ban is clear. Two studies done by the CATO Institute serve as great evidence to this end. First, they found that the vetting process of citizens from the Middle East trying to travel to the United States was already incredible thorough and “robust” including thorough background checks, several rounds of interviews, and fingerprinting. Second, they reported that “Foreigners from [the] seven nations [in the original ban] have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.” In fact, between 1975-2015, terrorists originating from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon have accounted for far more deaths than any other country in the world. Terrorists from the fifth country on the list, Kuwait, have only accounted for six deaths in the time frame while the top four are all in the triple digits and above. None of those countries were on any iteration of Trump’s travel bans. Trump’s cries for national security fall well short.

As far as the Supreme Court goes, it’s more than obvious that the intention behind the travel ban was maligned. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor writes in Trump v Hawaii, “Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus … The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.” Trump did exactly what he told the voters he would do: he stopped Muslims from entering the United States to the best of his abilities, through a thinly veiled attempt to cry national security.

Not only does the ban fail to actually protect the United States against potential terrorists, the ban actually has harmful, negative impacts. Specifically, it exacerbates the problem of radicalization, arms extremist groups with unlimited recruitment publicity, and jeopardizes our relationship with critical foreign governments. The same CATO report that explored the US’s “robust” vetting processes cited a Department of Homeland Security draft intelligence assessment which found that “most foreign-born, US-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry into the United States.” Critically, Trump’s ban makes the problem much worse. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former senior director for counterterrorism and deputy legal adviser at the National Security Council Joshua A. Geltzer, and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew G. Olsen published an article for CNN explaining their scathing opposition to the ban in which they write: “The ban is so obviously, palpably, indeed explicitly anti-Muslim in nature that it has — understandably — offended Muslim-American communities around the world, including in the United States. Yet those are precisely the communities that can prove critical for identifying and responding to individuals becoming radicalized by groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.” Furthermore, Clapper et co explain that “effective counterterrorism relies heavily on robust intelligence-sharing relationships with foreign governments.” Restricting a country’s citizens from entering the United States is a “surefire way to offend that country’s government and impede intelligence-sharing, rather than enhancing the flow of information about terrorist threats as effective counterterrorism requires.” In fact, after Chad was included in an iteration of the travel ban, they pulled their troops out of Niger where they had been aiding in a counterterrorism fight against Boko Haram. Despite their removal from Trump’s next ban, “there’s been no indication of when, if ever, Chad’s troops will return to Niger. It’s usually not easy to soothe an offended partner.”

Conclusively, Trump’s travel ban does nothing to improve national security, while subjecting “countless families and individuals … pain and suffering” and arming extremists groups with recruitment materials. Nevermind the justification is essentially to punish citizens of foreign countries because the government believes a few individuals from their country pose a threat to national security. Trump’s Muslim ban is incredibly dangerous and blatantly unconstitutional.

 

Author

Nader Granmayeh
Nader Granmayeh

Nader Granmayeh is a senior at Horace Mann High School where he is the co-Student Body President. He’s always been interested in politics, joining the school’s debate team in 7th grade and volunteering on five local campaigns. Most recently, he was an intern on Zephyr Teachout’s attorney general campaign and worked on the Foreign Policy Association’s blog division.

Nader is specifically interested in the Supreme Court and hopes to further his education by going to law school.

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