The Supreme Court deemed it semi-constitutional and Trump called it “watered down." For refugees and travelers coming from the six Muslim-majority nations included in the president’s travel ban, it is discriminatory.
On June 26, the Supreme Court decided to temporarily allow parts of Executive Order 13769 to go through. Although the Supreme Court made a decision this week, in the fall they will hold a more comprehensive trial for the travel ban.
In the months leading up to their expected hearing, we cannot forget President Trump’s past of bigotry toward Muslims. In 2015, Trump said at a town hall in New Hampshire, “We have a problem in this country; it's called Muslims.” Now in 2017, Trump has proposed to prevent people from Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia — where Islam is the majority religion — from entering the U.S.
By closing our doors to Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, we are violating the Constitution by discriminating against a certain religion. We are also giving ISIS and other terror groups more material to motivate their following, as we appear to treat Muslims unfairly.
Nowhere else to go
Under the new provisions made by the Supreme Court, citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia must prove a “bona-fide” relationship with a person living in the U.S. or a connection to a U.S. business or school in order enter the country. Refugees without any connections in the states will have to look elsewhere for a safe haven.
Syria is among the countries whose citizens are not welcome. Since the civil war that erupted in Syria in 2011, millions of Syrians have died and those who have survived have been left with little. The fighting has led to an unprecedented refugee crisis, with 5 million Syrians having fled the country since the war began, according to the United Nations.
Of those 5 million refugees, the Migration Policy Institute reports that the U.S. has taken in 18,007 displaced Syrians — less than one percent of the total figure — between October 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016.
Today, 13.5 million Syrians remain in need because of the hostility taking place in their home country. Their homes and schools have turned into battlefields. But finding asylum is becoming increasingly more difficult as countries that once accepted refugees, like Serbia and Germany, are tightening their refugee policies.
A history of turning our backs
In the past, when people from war-torn countries needed the help of the United States, the U.S. has turned away. Now, because of Islamophobia, Americans are reluctant to improve the lives of millions of Syrian refugees.
After World War I, the majority of Americans were hesitant to allow European refugees into the U.S. Over 800,000 Europeans were without homes after the First World War because they had been destroyed amidst the fighting. In 1938, a poll by Roper found that 67 percent of Americans were against allowing “German, Austrian and other political refugees” into the U.S.
Similarly, in 1980, the United States was pressed to accept refugees, this time from Cuba. During the Mariel Boatlift, 125,000 Cubans fled the Castro dictatorship and came to the U.S. Although these people were turning their backs on their communist government and opening their arms to our capitalist system, Americans were not happy. A poll by CBS and the New York Times in June 1980 found that 71 percent of Americans were against Cuban emigrants settling in the U.S.
Today, the United States has the potential to help not hundreds of thousands of people, but millions of people, yet we have allowed prejudice to get in the way once again. Allowing Muslim refugees into the United States does not put Americans in more danger.
The CATO Institute found that “Zero Americans have been killed by Syrian refugees in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The annual chance of an American dying in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.6 billion.”
However, Trump’s travel ban will cut back on the number of Syrian refugees permitted to enter the U.S. “in the interest of national security.”
Judging a threat
When he first introduced Executive Order 13769, Trump professed that by accepting travelers and refugees from Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia, the government would be putting American lives in danger. On the contrary, the order will convey that “the United States is at war with Islam,” as over 130 national security experts put it, and give terror groups more fuel for their activities.
After the president released the newest version of his travel ban, over 130 former national security officials spoke out against it in a letter to the president. These former defense and foreign policy officials claimed the travel ban would “weaken U.S. national security and undermine U.S. global leadership.”
Among the list of signees were officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, including Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor to the president; John Kerry, former Secretary of State; and Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security.
These former national security officials agreed that “To Muslims - including those victimized by or fighting against ISIS - it will send a message that reinforces the propaganda of ISIS and other extremist groups, that falsely claim the United States is at war with Islam. Welcoming Muslim refugees and travelers, by contrast, exposes the lies of terrorists and counters their warped vision.”
When the Supreme Court takes on the president’s travel ban again in the fall, we must remind them that Trump’s ban is grounded in misinformation about Islam. The ban does not make America safer and instead creates more holes in the country's security.
Until that day, we must empathize with the millions of refugees who are fleeing the country that was once their home, and be disappointed that the U.S. refuses to help those people.