Why Not Make American Immigration Policy Pro-tolerance and Pro-America?

August 16, 2016

From Donald Trump’s big speech yesterday:

A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.

In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.

In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.

Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.

Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.

Broadly speaking, I think that’s exactly right.

Apparently “some” on the left have been reacting badly to Trump’s words—specifically, the leftist New York Times produced an editorial against the speech, though they hid behind weasel words that would have been disqualifying by the standards of Wikipedia, to say nothing of a “newspaper of record”.

He proposed a new “extreme vetting” approach to immigration that would impose an ideological test on newcomers and undermine the very American values of tolerance and equal treatment that he said he wanted to encourage. He also called for the creation of a commission that would “expose the networks in our society that support radicalization,” which struck many listeners as an uncomfortable echo of McCarthyism.

“Struck many listeners”?  If the editors want to call Trump’s speech McCarthyism, they should say so.  If they sense that that would be a stretch and they would be embarrassed to defend such a claim, they shouldn’t try to smuggle it in as someone else’s supposed opinion.  (Who do they think they are, Trump?)

I take second seat to no one in criticizing Trump.  (Just look at anything I’ve said about him.)  But his critics are wrong and he’s right about this.

(Mark Levin today:  “I’m not getting on anybody’s train.  He’s getting on our train.”)

When Trump proposed banning all Muslim immigrants, isn’t this exactly the sort of policy conservatives and liberals alike criticized him for not proposing instead?  We criticized him (rightly) for painting with too broad a brush, for lumping all Muslims together and treating them as a monolith and a threat.  Here now is the implied alternative behind our criticisms:  Don’t ban all Muslims; try to bar people who do not agree with American concepts of freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, and peaceful tolerance of those who disagree with us or are different from us.

Sure, no doubt some immigrants with ill intent will try to lie their way past such screenings, but we know for sure that there’s at least room for improvement over current policy—we could stop telling immigration officials they’re not allowed to consider whether the immigrant has posted anti-American or pro-beheading content on Facebook, for example.

Anyway the historical precedent for America’s right to judge potential immigrants on cultural-ideological grounds is bipartisan and well established.  In various forms, it has been U.S. law for the past century; U.S. law to this day requires naturalization (citizenship) applicants to be “attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.”  Current U.S. law also prohibits naturalizing as a citizen anyone “who is a member of or affiliated with (A) the Communist Party of the United States; (B) any other totalitarian party of the United States;” anyone who “advocates the economic, international, and governmental doctrines of world communism or the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship”; anyone “who writes or publishes” material “advocating (A) the overthrow by force, violence or other unconstitutional means of the Government of the United States or of all forms of law; or (B) the duty, necessity, or propriety of the unlawful assaulting or killing of any officer or officers (either of specific individuals or of officers generally) of the Government of the United States or of any other organized government, because of his or their official character; or (C) the unlawful damage, injury, or destruction of property;” etc.

(Update, August 17th, 2016:  Charles Cooke at National Review Online goes into more detail about the different levels of cultural-ideological scrutiny and inquiry that immigrants get under current U.S. policy, more so the closer they get to citizenship.)

More from that speech:

The fight will not be limited to ISIS. We will decimate Al Qaeda, and we will seek to starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah. We can use existing UN Security Council resolutions to apply new sanctions.

Military, cyber and financial warfare will all be essential in dismantling Islamic terrorism.

But we must use ideological warfare as well.

Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.

While my opponent accepted millions of dollars in Foundation donations from countries where being gay is an offense punishable by prison or death, my Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith.

Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.

This includes speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings, where women are murdered by their relatives for dressing, marrying or acting in a way that violates fundamentalist teachings.

Over 1,000 Pakistani girls are estimated to be the victims of honor killings by their relatives each year. Recently, a prominent Pakistani social media star was strangled to death by her brother on the charge of dishonoring the family. In his confession, the brother took pride in the murder and said: “Girls are born to stay home and follow traditions.”

Shockingly, this is a practice that has reached our own shores.

One such case involves an Iraqi immigrant who was sentenced to 34 years in jail for running over his own daughter claiming she had become “too Westernized.”

To defeat Islamic terrorism, we must also speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow.

A new immigration policy is needed as well.

The common thread linking the major Islamic terrorist attacks that have recently occurred on our soil – 9/11, the Ft. Hood shooting, the Boston Bombing, the San Bernardino attack, the Orlando attack – is that they have involved immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Clearly, new screening procedures are needed.

A review by the U.S. Senate Immigration Subcommittee has identified 380 foreign-born individuals charged with terrorism or terrorismrelated offenses between 9/11 and 2014, and many more since then.

We also know that ISIS recruits refugees after their entrance into the country – as we have seen with the Somali refugee population in Minnesota.

Beyond terrorism, as we have seen in France, foreign populations have brought their anti-Semitic attitudes with them.

Pew polling shows that in many of the countries from which we draw large numbers of immigrants, extreme views about religion – such as the death penalty for those who leave the faith – are commonplace.

A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.

In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.

In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.

Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.

Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.

. . .

Our victory in the Cold War relied on a bipartisan and international consensus. That is what we must have to defeat Radical Islamic terrorism.

But just like we couldn’t defeat communism without acknowledging that communism exists – or explaining its evils – we can’t defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism unless we do the same.

This also means we have to promote the exceptional virtues of our own way of life – and expecting that newcomers to our society do the same.

Pride in our institutions, our history and our values should be taught by parents and teachers, and impressed upon all who join our society.

Assimilation is not an act of hostility, but an expression of compassion. Our system of government, and our American culture, is the best in the world and will produce the best outcomes for all who adopt it.

This approach will not only make us safer, but bring us closer together as a country.

Renewing this spirit of Americanism will help heal the divisions in our country. It will do so by emphasizing what we have in common – not what pulls us apart.

That’s good stuff.  Credit where due:  Trump (and whoever wrote that speech…) should be applauded for getting this right.

And it’s a shame that more other American leaders and politicians aren’t talking like this.  The fact that Trump is so nearly the only voice for these sensible pro-American views is a big part of why he has attracted so many supporters.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Why Not Make American Immigration Policy Pro-tolerance and Pro-America?”


  1. Granted, if they were immigrating to America, leading presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should be the first ones excluded, for their stated policy goal of watering down our First Amendment freedom of speech and of the press.

    There, I said it so you don’t have to.

    But seriously, this policy deserves serious consideration.

  2. YDA Says:

    These requirements already exist, though – even the anti-Communist screening from the 1950s is still in place. The problem isn’t that known terrorists are being given green cards, it’s that screening questionnaires and background checks aren’t that hard to circumvent. Either Trump is unaware of this, in which case he probably shouldn’t be commenting on immigration policy (let alone determining it as President), or he does, in which case it’s being used to inflame anti-Muslim and, more broadly, anti-immigrant sentiment.


Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: