President Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban is fundamentally un-American and makes our nation less safe. In addition to serving as a propaganda tool for violent extremists, this dangerous executive order undercuts the core values of an open society vital to our nation and which undergird America’s global leadership, while inflaming anti-Muslim sentiment, harassment, and crimes at home. Even worse, it turns our backs on our nation’s rich history as a leader of helping those in need, turning America’s back on the world’s most vulnerable during an unprecedented global refugee crisis.
Shutting the nation off to citizens of majority Muslim nations and refugees makes America less safe by undermining the values that support U.S. national security and global leadership.
- Bipartisan national security leaders agree: accepting refugees helps U.S. national security. A letter signed by 20 former senior national security officials, ranging from Henry Kissinger to Madeleine Albright, says, “In fact, resettlement initiatives help advance U.S. national security interests by supporting the stability of our allies and partners that are struggling to host large numbers of refugees. Refugees are victims, not perpetrators, of terrorism. Categorically refusing to take them only feeds the narrative of ISIS that there is a war between Islam and the West, that Muslims are not welcome in the United States and Europe….” [Letter to Congress, 12/1/15]
- Leading by example with core values that accepts people of all faiths and nationalities sends a powerful signal to the rest of the world. America leads by example by maintaining an open society at home, which is particularly important at a time when there are over 65 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the world – the most recorded in history. On the question of Syrian refugees specifically, 22 bipartisan national security officials – ranging from Michele Flournoy to Paul Wolfowitz – wrote accepting more refugees “would be a responsible exercise in burden-sharing that would help to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable refugees most in need of resettlement. Moreover, this kind of leadership is in our nation’s best traditions and would send a powerful signal to governments in Europe and the Middle East about their obligations to do more.” In a recent letter, hundreds of interfaith religious leaders agreed. [Letter, 9/17/15]
- Policies that close-off America to Muslim-majority nations exacerbate violent extremism – not make it better. Terrorist organizations fuel their ideology by propaganda that use the words and acts of foreign leaders to support the narrative of a clash of civilizations. Reuters reported based on interviews with extremists that, “Taliban commanders and Islamic State supporters say Trump’s campaign trail rhetoric against Muslims – at one point calling for a total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States – will play perfectly in their recruitment efforts, especially for disaffected youth in the West.” By continuing his campaign rhetoric into executive actions, President Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS propagandists. [Reuters, 11/14/16]
The vetting process for refugees is safe, extensive and has worked for millions. Since 1975, the United States has successfully resettled over 3 million refugees. Today, the process subjects incoming refugees to a series of stringent examinations and checks over a two-year period by the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security, including background checks, multiple interviews, biometric security checks, medical examinations, and recurrent vetting. This program is safe and effective. Since 1975, “the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year.” [CATO, 9/13/16]
The Islamophobia behind Trump’s Executive Order threatens to exacerbate attacks against the Muslim community. The latest annual FBI Hate Crime Statistics report finds that anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US increased 67 percent in 2015 to 257 incidents. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is the highest number of reported hate crimes against Muslims in the United States since 2001. While the looming Executive Order purportedly focuses on potential Visa-holders and refugees, its expression of anti-Muslim sentiment risks exacerbating the current harassment and criminal attacks facing the American Muslim community. The severity of these risks were tragically displayed when in January a right-wing terrorist — identified in part as a Trump sympathizer — murdered six at a mosque in Quebec City.