I believe that the government has very few roles, but one of those roles is to put the American people first.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 gives broad powers to the executive branch to determine who may and may not come to the United States.
This defense of the spirit of the executive order is not to say that its implementation was executed flawlessly.
Less than a month after being sworn in as the 45th American President, Donald Trump already has the liberal media in fits. Accusations of racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and so on were not unexpected given the nature of President Trump’s fiercely raw, un-PC rhetoric, and this time it appears that the Left has fixated on President Trump’s “Muslim ban.” On the evening of January 27th, Mr. Trump signed an executive order entitled, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” In a nutshell, the order temporarily halts immigration from seven nations, in an effort to prevent the inflow of potential terrorists. The countries included in the order are Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Libya. The ban suspended immigration for a period of 90 days, after which the President planned to consider taking other action in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security.
The most common qualm with this order is that all the nations on the list are Muslim-majority nations, and hence cries of islamophobia were let loose. However, if President Trump really wanted to put a Muslim ban in place, the list of countries on that list would be far larger, and include at least one of the countries with the seven largest Muslim populations in the world such as Indonesia—not to mention the close to fifty other Muslim-majority countries in the world. The order was also criticized for displaying a lack of humanity to those in danger of persecution because it indefinitely banned refugees from Syria. On the contrary, though, I believe that the travel suspension is actually a telling example of Mr. Trump’s humanity.
As a conservative, I believe that the government has very few roles, but one of those roles is to put the American people first. This may take the form of instituting restrictions on migrants we know nothing about. We have heard firsthand from the FBI that we simply do not have the resources to vet all of those entering the United States. Flooding our country with potentially dangerous individuals is not a smart thing to do, and for Democrats to abuse this situation to paint President Trump as a bigot is not only an instance of unsubstantiated name calling, but also immensely threatening to the American people. Numerous recent acts of terrorism carried out in Western Europe serve as a prime example of what the dangers of granting refuge to asylum seekers who have not been properly vetted.
The Trump administration does not want to completely stop all refugees from entering the country. To this effect, President Trump has stated that the order works on a case by case basis. If there are individuals suffering religious persecution, such as Christians in the Middle East, these individuals will be given priority, provided the government can be confident that these people do not wish to harm the United States or the values on which it was founded.
This defense of the spirit of the executive order is not to say that its implementation was executed flawlessly. However, just because the Left and the mainstream media have overstated the executive order’s shortcomings does not mean that there is not room for improvement. The rollout of the order could be described as problematic at best. Banning green card holders and potentially dual citizens is a ridiculous proposition. These people have lived in the United states for years, and the fact that they are permanent residents or citizens means they have likely integrated and been subject to what could be considered a reasonable amount of vetting. The order also fails to recognize the potential of terror from other nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In defense of the hasty implementation of the travel ban, President Trump explained that it had to be done without warning or “all the bad people” would have come to the United States in the time between the announcement of the ban and it taking effect.
Critics of the immigration ban argue that 8 U.S. Code § 1152 makes the restrictions illegal since the law states that individuals cannot be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.” However, this concern could be readily addressed should Congress get on board. The law provides wiggle room if Congress approves the countries banned. Other opponents of the ban argue that people already in the United States are under American jurisdiction and, thus, have Constitutional rights as a reflection of the 14th Amendment.
In response to these critics, many, including former Vice President Dick Cheney have argued that the Constitution only applies to American citizens. Furthermore, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 gives broad powers to the executive branch to determine who may and may not come to the United States:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
Central to this entire debate is the issue of trading liberty for security. Is it worth sacrificing the liberty of a foreigner for the security of the American people?
President Obama stated in his 2009 inaugural address “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” However, this line of argument, though sentimentally appealing, sidesteps the reality that this trade-off is an inescapable feature of any nation. For every spying program, for every security-enhancing government mandate, the government encroaches on our personal freedom. It is almost indisputable that the American government should do its best to minimize its infringement on the liberty of American citizens while still affording a reasonable degree of physical protection
But should we extend this line of thinking also to foreigners? Do these foreign nationals have an unalienable right to enter our country? I sincerely believe that they do not. The American government has an obligation to put the American people first, and President Trump’s executive order is a first step towards that, ever so important, objective.
Nikhil Sridhar is an undergraduate at Duke University.