Analyzing the travel ban

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Wellington Baumann, Contributing Writer

President Trump’s first month has been full of controversial executive orders, the most prominent of which is a major piece of immigration reform. Effective as of January 27th, immigrants from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia are barred from entering the United States for 90 days.

In addition, all refugees are barred for 120 days, however, Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. This is all a part of the president’s program of extreme vetting as promised on the campaign trail.

In response, protests have erupted across the country and now the legality of the order is being tested in court. While I applaud the president for his commitment to his campaign promises, this order will have little to no effect on terrorism in the United States.

Refugees have been presented to the general public as a vicious horde flooding over international borders with little to no background checks. Fear has gripped every home as ISIS promises to insert militants into the mass of refugees, imposing a great security risk. While this may be the case for Europe, this assessment is not applicable to the United States.

A long and arduous process for refugees to enter the United States already exists. It takes anywhere between 18 and 24 months for refugees to gain entry. During this time, eight federal agencies become involved and utilize six different databases.

Five separate background checks are conducted along with four fingerprint and biometric checks, three in-person interviews, and two inter-agency checks. Even at the end of this ordeal, only a fraction of the applicants are admitted. There are far more effective and easier ways for terrorists to enter the United States.

This is obviously the case considering how not a single refugee has been implicated in any major fatal terrorist attack since the signing of the Refugee Act (1980). For that matter, no one from the seven countries affected by the President’s travel ban has conducted a fatal terrorist attack in the United States since September 11th.

Recent attacks have been acted out by radicalized United States citizens, not foreign nationals. Homegrown terrorism should be our primary concern, not the myth of foreign assailants.

Trump’s travel ban appears to be more of a political stunt than an actual security measure, however, I do not receive daily security briefings. It is entirely possible that immigrants and refugees pose a clear and present danger to the United States, but even if this was the case, the president poorly implemented the travel ban.

The order was abruptly signed, catching custom and immigration officials off guard. Chaos ensued as people across the globe became trapped at airports and numerous flights were cancelled. All of this confusion could have been avoided if a week had been given for American officials to adjust to the policy and for citizens abroad to travel back home.

The travel ban has sparked a mass opposition movement in the United States, although I believe that the current demonstrations are justified. I would like to point out some errors.

The #NoMuslimBan, which quickly surfaced on Twitter in the wake of the travel ban, is a misleading slogan at best. Although the countries affected are predominantly Muslim, it does not change the fact that this order pertains to one’s national origin. The order does not target a religion and therefore is not a “Muslim ban”.

Also, a travel ban is not a new concept. Former Presidents Carter, Regan, Bush senior, Clinton, Bush Junior, and Obama have all imposed travel bans. To be fair, President Trump’s is by far the largest. Regardless, if legal precedent means anything, then the law is on the president’s side. The Supreme Court ruled in United States ex Rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy that the president has the power to refuse aliens entry into the United States.

This point is further supported by current United States immigration law. The Supreme Court also ruled in Landon v. Plasencia that an alien has no constitutional right to seek entry into the United States. Immigration is a privilege, not a right.

While the president may have the power to impose this travel ban, I fail to see how it will benefit American interests. Refugees and immigrants pose little danger to our security. This executive order has unintentionally damaged American relations with Middle Eastern countries, further hindering our efforts to fight the war on terror.

Rather than taking part in frivolous political stunts, it would be within our interests to improve our relationship with the Middle East and work on restoring stability to that region.

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Author: Wellington Baumann

Wellington Baumann ’20 is a political science major from Westport, Connecticut and has been writing for the Gettysburgian since 2016. He has held leadership positions within the Student Senate and Young Americans for Freedom. Wellington is currently the Vice President of the Gettysburg College Republicans, Captain of both the Moot Court and Mock Trial teams, and serves as an Article and Notes Editor at the Law Journal of the Liberal Arts.

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