Can we have adult conversation about immigration?

I don’t know if it is still possible to have an adult conversation about the immigration hesitation ordered by President Trump, but let’s try.

Tom West, West Words
Tom West, West Words

On the one side, we have people calling the president “Hitler” and accusing him of totalitarianism. On the other, we have the worst kind of racists and bigots shouting, “You tell ‘em, Donald. And while you’re at it, send all their relatives back home, too.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting if everybody actually read the order before doubling down on their talking points?

Let’s recall what the primary purpose of the order is; it’s in the first paragraph: “….To protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.”

OK, would everyone opposed to that please raise your hand.

See, that wasn’t so hard.

Next, do a word scan of the order, looking for the words “Muslim” or “Christian.”

That’s right, they aren’t in there.

I can hear you saying, “but, but, but …” but let me continue.

The order includes a 90-day suspension on the issuing of visas, other than diplomatic, to people from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. Why?

The  Trump administration believes at this time that it is getting inadequate documentation from these seven nations because of the war, violence and political upheaval that has occurred in that part of the world.

It’s true that none of the terrorists attacking Americans came from those seven nations, but that is irrelevant. It’s about making sure the screening is effective.

Some will also argue that the processes already in place are adequate — the existing vetting process can take up to two years, with screenings by the U.N., the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI and the departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security (DHS) plus personal interviews with DHS.

Isn’t that enough? Well, the problem is that 145 Americans have been killed in 50 attacks by Muslims since 9/11. An additional 393 were injured in those 50 attacks (two-thirds of them in the Boston Marathon bombing), but that doesn’t include other non-fatal attacks like the 10 people stabbed at the St. Cloud mall. Nor does it count the 10 Twin Cities men convicted and now serving prison time for trying to join ISIS.

Compared to the violence perpetrated by drunk drivers, drug gangs and jilted husbands and boyfriends, the number is relatively low, but each time a Muslim extremist tries to murder, the fear level climbs another notch.

Last May, FBI Director James Comey said his agency had 1,000 active terrorism investigations.

Like it or not, radical Islamic extremists are at war with western civilization. You may bear no grudge against them, but they do against you. If you aren’t Muslim, they want you dead.

Trump promised when he ran that he was going to put America first, and when the next attack occurs, no one will be able to say it was his fault. He is trying to make the country safer from these violent jihadists.

At the same time, if his immigration hesitation doesn’t pass constitutional muster, then he will need to go on to Plan B, because the problem isn’t going away.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson joined Washington state in successfully seeking (at least so far) a preliminary injunction to stop the enforcement of the immigration hesitation until a full trial can be heard. Swanson seems willing to take the risk that no new terrorists will arrive during the interim. Maybe she’ll win that gamble, but that’s all it is — a gamble.

That ruling may now be headed for the Supreme Court, but if Trump truly believes time is of the essence, he should consider other alternatives.

The challenge before us is that most Muslims in the United States are like everyone else, in that they want to live in peace with everyone, take care of their families and  make their way through this world as best they can.

How many would-be Muslim terrorists are in the country? 1,000? 5,000? 10.000? Nobody knows. But there are 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. Pew Research Center polling also found that 51 percent of them would like the option of living under Sharia law and about 30 percent believe anyone who insults Mohammed, the Quran or Islam should be put to death.

In this nation, we have elections and a Constitution to determine whether such ideas would be appropriate, and for the last half century or so, the state religion of big government has held sway over the churches, synagogues and mosques.

So the question is, how do we protect Americans from radical jihadists, who want to come here to do us harm, without trampling on individual Americans’ rights or causing harm to tens of thousands of Muslims who are law-abiding and don’t mean to hurt anybody?

I know one way not to do it: Keep screaming four-letter words at one another, assuming those with whom you disagree are complete idiots, and using violence to protest. The issues are fundamental to us all: freedom of religion, due process and protecting the nation from evil-doers coming here for all the wrong reasons.

The Founding Fathers reminded us, if all men were angels, there would be no need for government. We shouldn’t naively accept that all refugees deserve our welcoming arms, while understanding that most do.

Let’s lower the volume and lessen the invective, and let our nation of laws figure out the best approach.


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  • newpolitiq7

    Some reasonable points, and some ridiculous assertions, also, raised in this piece (never mind the fact that Trump’s E.O. was badly crafted and his case had poor lawyering before the 9th Circuit). But, still, scarcely a criticism of this new president from West since November? Why is that? Is it that it wouldn’t go over well with the “Trumpiest” county in the State of MN, the main readership of this paper? ( Or, is it that it wouldn’t be popular with the new owner of MCR/ECM, Stephen Adams, Adams Publishing, who donated over $1 million to the Trump campaign? Or, maybe Mr. West is just a big Trump booster (which didn’t seem to be the case during the campaign)?

    Regarding comprehensive immigration reform, a lot can be done, but Congressional Republicans have refused in past years. Maybe the Catholic Bishops’ wishes will become reality this year? “”In the days and weeks ahead, there will be intense debate over immigration reform and refugee policy. Ultimately, the question is this: Will our nation treat all migrants and refugees, regardless of their national origin or religion, in a way that respects their inherent dignity as children of God?” Cardinal DiNardo said.
    “Pope Francis reminds us we are all equal before God. In equal measure, we are in need of and can receive God’s great mercy. This is what makes us sisters and brothers, regardless of how we chose to divide ourselves.”

  • newpolitiq7

    Additionally, we’re been reminded frequently over the years in this column that Morrison County is a self-proclaimed predominantly Christian county. In that vein, I offer up for consideration this compelling piece. I’m not sure if it will relieve the fears (which I personally believe are irrational) of all Christians, but it will at least provide some food for thought: “Ten Reasons Why Christians Need to Welcome Muslim Refugees With Open Arms”

  • Mockingbird

    A guy named Benjamin Franklin said it best, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” When did we become such cowards?