A few Facts: (Not alternative facts or hopefully cherry-picked facts, but actual facts not meant to appeal to any one ideal or persuasion.)
- In 2011, President Obama did enact a policy that seriously limited Iraqi refugees from entering the country. He instructed that all processing of new Iraqi refugees be halted for six months. However, he did not place any holds on current Green Card holders, people with current visas or refugees who had already completed the vetting process. (Jessica McBride, Heavy, Jan. 29, 2017)
- The number of Iraqi refugees that came to the United States between 2010-2012: 2010 – 18,251, 2011 – 6,339, 2012 – 16,369. (State Department Records as reported and linked to by the Washington Post)
- In 2015, President Obama did establish the list of seven countries that are considered “Countries of Concern” with regards to terrorist activities. President Trump used that list in his executive order and banned all “immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12)” In short, those countries are the list of seven.
- President Trump’s executive order does include holds on current Green Card holders, people with current visas and refugees who have completed the vetting process but have not yet entered the country. (White House Executive Order, Jan. 27, 2017)
- On January 12, 2017, President Obama ended the longstanding policy of the United States of “wet foot/dry foot” with regard to Cuban refugees. Previous to that change, any Cuban refugee able to make it to dry ground was allowed to stay in the United States and become a citizen without qualifying for humanitarian relief. As part of this change in policy toward Cuba, the US received no concessions from the Cuban government regarding how individuals returned to Cuba would be treated. Under the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, no Cuban refugee was required to undergo a vetting process similar to that of other countries. (Fox News, Obama Announces End To…, Jan. 12, 2017)
- Mr. Trump’s executive order places a ban on refugees from Syria entering the country and that ban has no end date.
- In 2017, the United Nations identified 4.86 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Of those, about 10% or roughly 480,000 people, are in need of resettlement. (Amnesty International)
- As of November 1, 2016, 13,210 Syrian refugees were relocated to the United States in 2016 alone. That is a 675% increase over 2015. Of those, 99.1% were Muslim (Christian News Service, 13,210 Syrian Refugees So Far…, Nov. 1, 2017)
- High Income countries currently offering no resettlement opportunities to Syrian refugees (As of January 27, 2017): Russia, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, South Korea, and The United States. (Amnesty International and The White House Executive Order, Jan. 27, 2017)
- Through February 2016, over 470,000 Syrians have died directly or indirectly due to the on-going Civil War. (Syrian Center for Policy Research as report by PBS, A Staggering New Death…, February 11, 2016 )
Not Facts (Otherwise known today as Alternate Facts):
- This is a Muslim Ban – This is in fact, not a Muslim ban. It targets specific countries that are predominately Muslim, but it does not prohibit the movement of Muslims to our country specifically. However, the Administration might understand how people could easily get to that belief due to the fact that Mr. Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration during the campaign. Nevertheless, any media outlet reporting that this as Muslim ban is being disingenuous and providing “false news.”
- This policy “is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” – This is not really similar to what President Obama did at all. At least not based on the information we have available to us today. In 2011, the Obama administration, in response to the arrest of two Iraqi nationals in Kentucky who were connected to roadside bombs that had been constructed in Iraq in 2005, halted all new visas to Iraqi refugees for six months while they 1) investigated how these individuals had slipped through customs without being flagged and detained, and 2) created more extensive background checks of Iraqi citizens seeking asylum (Washington Post). Thus far, it does not appear the Trump administration acted this past weekend based on any kind of event or evidence that would have prompted this ban. Rather it appears that the Trump administration is seeking to keep a campaign promise. Also, as noted above, the Obama administration policy was much narrower and allowed for those already in the system to be processed. The Trump policy is much broader and does not allow for “pre-existing” factors.
- This is an immigration issue – This is a humanitarian issue, not an immigration issue. To suggest such is probably unfair to the literally millions of immigrants who have gone through the standard process of naturalizing to this country. Furthermore, a nation can’t as a general rule just open its borders to everyone without some kind of process for providing legal status to those individuals. However, in times of emergency such as this, many of those provisions are often set aside to provide for the welfare of refugees in a timely manner. But again, that would be due to humanitarian concerns, not immigration concerns.
- This is a terrorism issue – This is a humanitarian issue, not a terrorism issue. To suggest that we should not reach out to the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced and are without basic necessities because one of them might possibly down the road try to kill us is cowardly. Horrifyingly so! Including those who died on 9-11, 3,043 Americans have been killed during terrorist attacks committed on American soil between 2001 and 2014. During that same period, 440,095 American citizens were killed in non-terrorism related gun violence on American soil (CNN). 35,092 American citizens were killed in automobile related deaths on American soil in 2015 alone (NHTSA.gov) It is completely justifiable to suggest that a vetting process be in place to try and protect the citizens of the United States. Prior to January 27, 2017, such a vetting process was in place. In fact, it has been described as the strictest of its kind in our country. Mr. Trump has stated we need to increase that to include an “extreme vetting” process, but has, as of yet, failed to define what that extreme vetting process is above and beyond what we are already doing.
- Christian refugees will get priority over all other faiths – The executive order does not allow for Christianity to be the deciding factor on whether or not a refugee will get priority. However, it does state, “…provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.” The problem here is that as near as I can find, no country that is currently exporting a large number of refugees is a predominately Christian nation. Therefore, this misconception could actually be argued as partially true because Christians from these war torn nations will get priority under this executive order. Furthermore, a large number of the nations exporting refugees are predominately Muslim nations and therefore, it can be surmised that Muslims will be denied any such priority.
Now let me finish with a couple more facts of which I will make no commentary except for one final question:
- Jesus said, “As I have loved you, love one another.”
- Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.“
- Jesus said, “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst of me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?“
Does our current attitude as a nation toward our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been displaced from their homes through war reflect our declaration that we are country founded on Christian ideals?