This weekend, tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets in dozens of cities around the country to protest President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. The president was forced to defend his policy.
“This is not a Muslim ban,” he said in a statement. “This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”
Basic common sense tells us that just isn’t true.
The order bans 218 million people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Syrian refugees, from entering the United States. This means that the vast majority of people being banned from the country are by default, Muslim. The order also prioritizes refugee claims on the basis of religious persecution, so long as the applicant is from a minority religion. This necessarily means that any applicant who is Muslim, even if they are being persecuted because of their beliefs, would not be prioritized. Trump himself has said the US would prioritize Syrian Christians above other refugees from that country.
True, not all Muslim-majority countries are included in the ban. But just because not all 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet are being banned, it doesn’t mean this order isn’t targeting Muslims. The U.S. Embassy in Israel just informed Arab Jews from any of those targeted countries that the immigration ban will not apply to them while the US Embassy in London informed U.K. citizens that if they were dual nationals of any of the targeted countries, they would not be allowed to enter the United States. Although the order does not explicitly say it, Muslims are, in fact, the only religious group of people being targeted.
So, contrary to what the president may want us to believe, his executive order is, effectively, a Muslim ban.
Within hours, the painful effects of the ban began reverberating across airports all over the country. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and even a five-year-old boy were detained at airports, held back from embracing their loved ones, simply because of their religious background.
The order is as abhorrent as it is un-American. It is also ineffective and incredibly dangerous.
For the past four decades, there have been no fatal attacks in the U.S. by immigrants from the seven Muslim-majority countries listed in the executive order. Zero. Similarly, since the United States established the Refugee Act in 1980, no refugees we’ve accepted, including Syrians, has carried out an attack on us. None of this is surprising if you consider that according to the conservative think tank The Cato Institute, your chances of being killed in an attack committed by a foreigner is about one in 3.6 million per year. In fact, as Americans, we are more likely to be killed by an armed toddler or a lawnmower than a violent extremist who claims to be Muslim.
The ban feeds in to the idea that the U.S. is at war with Islam. Extremists are celebrating the move, describing it as “blessed” and saying that it validates their claims about America.
In short, President Trump is supporting terrorists and endangering America.
The order threatens our national security and our core values. It is a direct attack on the pluralistic vision our Founding Fathers had for what America should be. As Thomas Jefferson said, “when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” It is incumbent upon of all of us, no matter what race, religion, class or political party, to rise up and defend our country, starting with resisting this executive order.
Note: This post is an adaptation of remarks I made at press conference held by the San Francisco chapter of The Truman National Security Project.