Muslims praying in front of the U.S. Capitol.


When Donald Trump first announced a proposed ban on Muslims from entering the U.S., many politicians and the Obama Administration were quick to denounce his remarks as unconstitutional, discriminatory and dangerous.

Since his original statement in December 2015, Trump has shifted his policy from prohibiting all Muslims from traveling or immigrating to the U.S., to an immigration ban on “regions that export terrorism,” according to Trump’s website – a plan that is not only dangerous to Americans, but also nations across the world.

Exactly what countries will be included in such an ambiguous scheme is unclear. Still, the strategy is an extreme and oversimplified reaction to a lofty and complex goal – to keep Americans safe and terrorists out.

This goal is not one that is in dispute; however, if Trump were to prohibit immigration from nations where terrorists who have committed attacks against the United States were born, the ban would refuse about 5.5. million people from entering the U.S. each year, according to the New York Times.

Trump’s initial call to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. came immediately after the San Bernardino shooting that left 14 people dead. Perhaps Trump did not realize, or did not wish to recognize, that main shooter Syed Farook was a U.S. citizen, born in Chicago.

Farook had been in contact with extremists online and traveled to Saudi Arabia only twice before committing the shooting, and the short trips did not catch the attention of the government as red flags, according to BBC.

Trump’s immigration policy does not address attackers who are born in the U.S. or migrate from countries without a history of terrorism. People included in these groups make up half of the terrorist perpetrators since 2001, according to the Times.

In an increasingly globalized world where communication is facilitated through the internet, people who were not born in, and have never even traveled to, a country with a history of terrorism can connect with people who have radicalized views.

Trump’s plan does not stop home-grown terrorists, but instead prevents refugees fleeing life-threatening civil wars from seeking asylum in the U.S. This only helps terrorist groups like ISIS, which leverage safety in return for allegiance during periods of instability.

The repercussions of Trump’s immigration ban are considerable. Closing U.S. borders to refugees from conflict-ridden countries puts more pressure on Europe where 4.1 million refugees have already sought safety, and 3,800 have died in the Mediterranean this year alone trying, according to CNN.

The ban will create retaliation against American citizens traveling abroad and affect U.S. trade and foreign relations, especially Muslim-majority countries with which the U.S. is working to combat terrorism, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Equality, freedom and opportunity attract people from all over the world to the U.S., especially those being persecuted for expressing those very rights. As a nation that is made up of a number of ethnicities, races and cultures, and one that prides itself on accepting those differences, fear of one group will destroy the very values on which the country rests.

Trump’s policy of securing American’s safety through a widespread immigration ban is immoral and irresponsible. His plan to defeat ISIS can be reduced to a mere reaction to fear. Barring all immigrants from countries that have a history of terrorism will not stop terrorism. It won’t even slow it down. In fact, it will do the opposite.

Trump’s idea that one religion or certain nationalities are the root of terrorism is misguided and harmful. An immigration ban would be contrary to its desired effect by playing into ISIS’ core narrative: that the West hates Islam.

An immigration ban will also instill fear in American citizens, both those who are Muslim and those who are not. Terrorism itself relies on this dangerous terror psychology to keep us constantly in fear, an effect that will increase the divide in an already polarized nation.

A commitment to the safety and well-being of refugees and immigrants, and to the prosperity of other nations is a worthier and more productive commitment than an allegiance to fear, which ultimately will destroy America the same way that a terrorist attack would.

America has a shared responsibility to humanity and the rest of the world, a responsibility that looks beyond our borders and our citizens; and, if that is too noble of a goal for some to comprehend, America at the very least has a responsibility to uphold the values it was founded on and not compromise its ideals in the name of fear.

(Written by Erica Rawles; Nov. 16, 2016)

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