By Joe Guzzardi
January 30, 2017
Throughout his campaign and during his first days in the White House, President Donald Trump has insisted that most of the media is dishonest. Nothing provides greater evidence than the hysterical reporting surrounding Trump’s recent executive order to restrict refugees’ travel from seven nations, previously identified by President Obama as countries with terrorist ties. Often incorrectly described in print and on air as a “Muslim ban,” Trump’s order, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States,” puts Americans’ safety ahead of a dysfunctional refugee program.
Back up to analyze U.S. refugee resettlement history. At no point before or after the 1980 Refugee Act has resettlement been put before voters. Refugee policies have been written and voted on inside Congress. And the way those laws are implemented isn’t in local municipalities’ best interests. Communities receiving refugees have little advance notice about their arrival or how many will be coming. Whether localities have the support system or the fiscal resources to absorb the migrants isn’t considered. The partial list of federal benefits that refugees immediately qualify for include temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), Medicaid, food stamps and public housing.
Trump’s order puts community interests first. By calling for a 120-day pause – repeat, pause – in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security will have time to review the adjudication process with the Director of National Intelligence. This is a perfectly reasonable objective given how resettlement totals increased during the Obama administration. The refugee cap that Trump proposes, 50,000 annually, is consistent with the total during George W. Bush’s two terms. Going back to 2002, the U.S. admitted about 27,000 refugees and fewer than 50,000 per year in 2003, 2006 and 2007. Obama’s expansion of refugee resettlement is the departure from norm, not Trump’s revised limit.
The media has exhaustively focused on Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s reference to a weeping Statue of Liberty and his Massachusetts colleague Elizabeth Warren’s passionate, public anti-Trump rhetoric. The debate should be whether better security checks – Trump’s “extreme vetting” – will serve the nation’s best interests. On that question, a review of the evidence indicates that Trump is right.
Last year, Ohio State student and Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove his vehicle into a campus crowd, and emerged wielding a butcher’s knife. His attack wounded 12. America’s recent history is dotted with refugees who have had attacks thwarted or who have perpetrated attacks that left Americans dead or injured, going back to the first World Trade Center bombing and conspirator Ramzi Yousef, who claimed to be an Iraqi refugee on a fake passport, and on to Somali refugee Nuradin Abdi who planned to bomb a Columbus, Ohio, shopping mall and last year’s stabbing of 10 people in St. Cloud, Minn., by Somali refugee Dahir Ahmed Adan, just to name a few.
San Bernardino terrorist Tafeen Malik was the most infamous example of poor vetting that led to deadly consequences. Although Malik’s Facebook posts were filled with jihadi rants, she was admitted to the U.S., with deadly results: 14 murdered and 22 injured.
The next attack could come at any moment. The Pew Research Center found that 8 percent of U.S. Muslims consider suicide bombing or violence against citizens “sometimes” or “often” justified.
The U.S. received 84,995 refugees in fiscal year 2016, including 12,587 from Syria, 9880 from Iraq, 9,020 from Somalia and 3,750 from Iran, countries included in the temporary ban.
Schumer, Warren and others maintain that Trump’s order is unconstitutional. But the Constitution delegates the authority to determine immigration policy to the federal government. Moreover, the U.S. has the absolute sovereign right to decide who comes to America. Trump’s order helps fulfill a president’s most essential function, protecting the homeland. As Trump put it, keeping the nation safe requires tough action.
A Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow, Joe can be contacted at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.