Trump's immigration order and the rallies
They came in droves to a rally in Battery Park on Sunday, January 29. Many carried signs saying, “Don’t take Democracy away from us,” “Resist,” “Muslims United,” and “We are a Nation of Immigrants.” Chants were promoted from the podium: “No Fence, No Wall,” and “Trump and Pence Are… Illegitimate.” Senator Gillibrand spoke of America’s immigrant tradition, and her senior counterpart Chuck Schumer, seemingly trained at Actors’ Studio, had tears rolling down his cheeks as he lamented this dark moment in American history.
Based on the hysterics, it was easy to overlook President Trump’s laudable purpose in issuing his order. He said this decision was based on protecting the nation from terrorist entry into the United States. Demonstrators insist that Trump is engaged in altering American policy.
This is far-fetched. Since Trump assumed office, he has moved with alacrity to address the terrorist question. While immigration policy won’t solve the issue, it is a necessary if insufficient gesture to counter terrorist ambitions. The FBI presently identifies one thousand terrorist cells operating in the United States. It is also clear that ISIS has encouraged its sympathizers to blend into the refugee hordes moving across Europe fomenting violence.
By imposing a ban on immigration from selected countries, Trump is adhering to his campaign pledge. He is also engaged in a legal act, notwithstanding a federal judge’s restraining order against implementation. The president, as commander in chief, can adopt those policies necessary to preserve national security. Moreover, President Trump backed down from his controversial pledge to ban Muslims. None of this has mollified his detractors.
Even though Presidents Bush and Obama capped refugee admissions at 50,000 per year, Trump’s similar limit has been widely criticized. What Trump has introduced is a screening process for refugees who will be admitted at the same rate as during the Obama presidency before the dramatic expansion of Syrians in 2016. Trump’s ban, however, gives the secretary of state and Homeland Security the right to apply exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Yet a thunderous roar of disapproval has occurred. Chicken Little has come to America, even though the president has made it clear he is attempting to thwart a prospective threat. Critics contend that the president is using a religious litmus test, a test evidently employed by President Obama, who accepted very few Christians and Yazidis facing genocide in the Middle East. It is instructive that religion is at least one central reason for refugee screening, notwithstanding claims by Trump’s detractors that a “new” standard has been introduced.
Clearly, scores of refugees were trapped at airports across the United States, and others were disadvantaged when the order was announced. If one were relying on the mass hysteria evident in Battery Park and elsewhere, one might conclude that President Trump’s position is a betrayal of American principles. However, applied judiciously, this immigration order represents careful assessment of possible violence and the policies that represent the best interest of the nation.
What I witnessed in Battery Park was obsessive behavior and political manipulation. Those in attendance imagine that after five days at the helm, President Trump has put this democratic republic at risk with his immigration order. The fear spoken of matter-of-factly at the rally is the fear of collective illusions. Trump would be wise to ignore the rallies, and Trump’s detractors would be wise to better understand the issues at hand.