On Friday (Jan. 27), President Trump followed through on one of his signature campaign promises.
One year ago, this month (Jan. 20), I wrote about candidate Trump’s planned Muslim ban (Fact-Checking a Reader, which has elicited additional response since Friday). Here’s what Trump originally called for as stated in a campaign press release dated December 7, 2015:
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
However, the order that President Trump signed had a slightly different take.
“…Trump’s executive order on immigration,” The New York Times reports (Jan. 29), “indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“The order,” The Times adds, “does not affect naturalized United States citizens from the seven named countries.”
Despite providing a list of countries rather than specifically targeting Muslims, Trump’s intent remains the same: a ban on individuals who practice a specific faith, Islam.
“After the order was signed, students, visitors and green-card-holding legal permanent United States residents from the seven countries — and refugees from around the world — were stopped at airports in the United States and abroad … Some were blocked from entering the United States and were sent back overseas. …
However, by Saturday, “a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of Mr. Trump’s order, saying that refugees and others being held at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.
“Federal judges in three states — Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington — soon issued similar rulings to stop the government from removing refugees and others with valid visas. The judge in Massachusetts also said the government could not detain the travelers.
“On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security said it would comply with the rulings while it continued to enforce all of the president’s executive orders. ‘Prohibited travel will remain prohibited,’ it said in a statement.”
Discussion on Sunday morning news shows provoked both legal and passionate reaction.
Responding to Trump’s call for the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to provide information and progress reports on the number of foreign terrorists that threaten the U.S., journalist Fareed Zakaria weighed-in.
“ ‘Let me save the government some money and offer up the data right now,” [Zakaria] said, quoting a study from the CATO Institute, a conservative think tank that has tallied the number of Americans killed on U.S. soil from 1975 to 2015 by citizens of the seven countries.
“ ‘Iraq – zero, Iran – zero, Syria – zero, Yemen – zero, Libya – zero, Somalia – zero, Sudan – zero.’
“ ‘There is really no rational basis for this ban,’ [Zakaria] said, before adding that it could only be explained by looking at what he considered to be the hallmark of Trump’s political career: ‘the exploitation of fear.’
“ ‘From the birther campaign to the talk of Mexican rapists, Trump has always trafficked in fear mongering,’ Zakaria said. …
“ ‘The image, reputation and goodwill of the United States of America as the beacon of the world’ was destroyed by the executive order, Zakaria said.”
However, take a closer look at Trump’s executive order. In the first three paragraphs, he mentions “September 9, 2011” three times. Yet, two of the terrorists who hijacked the planes on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and one from the United Arab Emirates – two countries that are excluded from Trump’s list.
Trump continues to falsely paint the U.S. immigration/terrorism issue as out-of-control.
However, according to the Global Terrorism Database, terrorist attacks have steadily declined in the U.S. from 62 in 1995 to 19 in 2014.
“Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” CNN reported in 2015, “we found that from 2001 to 2013, 406,496 [emphasis added] people died by firearms on U.S. soil. (2013 is the most recent year CDC data for deaths by firearms is available.) This data covered all manners of death, including homicide, accident and suicide.
“According to the U.S. State Department,” CNN continues, “the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2001 to 2013 was 350. In addition, we compiled all terrorism incidents inside the U.S. and found that between 2001 and 2013, there were 3,030 people killed in domestic acts of terrorism. This brings the total to 3,380 [emphasis added].
While ALL deaths remain a cruel tragedy for friends, families and communities, the facts simply do not support the kind of out-of-control homeland terrorist issue that President Trump continues to spin.
“A handful of Republicans, including Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, had offered similarly cautious criticism of the measure on Saturday,” The New York Times reported.
“You have an extreme vetting proposal,” Ohio Senator Rob Portman said, “that did not get the vetting it should have had. In my view, we ought to all take a deep breath and come up with something that makes sense for our national security and again for this notion that America has always been a welcoming home for refugees and immigrants,” he said.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham:
“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” they said, adding “That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
This issue is not going away anytime soon.
Call it Whatever You Want, the commentary scheduled for today, will appear on Wednesday.