Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban Has Nothing To Do With The Safety Of The American People
The weekend after President Donald Trump announced his executive order barring refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Rudy Giuliani spoke to Fox News defending the President’s controversial decision:
“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) also offered glowing support of the EO, releasing the following statement,
“With the stroke of a pen, [Trump] is doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last Administration did in eight years.”
And finally, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) argued against calling the bill a Muslim ban, suggesting that these seven countries are undoubtedly breeding grounds for terrorist organizations,
“He is doing what he told the American people he would do. I would not support a travel ban on Muslims; I do support increased vetting on people applying to travel from countries with extensive terrorist ties or activity. These seven countries meet that standard. Our top priority should be to keep Americans safe.”
The majority of Americans will probably agree with Sen. Blunt’s final statement considering the safety of our civilians. One might wager that legislation designed to reduce the likelihood of terrorists landing on American soil is not even a partisan issue. However, the “factual basis” that these men are staking their arguments on, simply does not exist. These are not arguments based on falsehoods or mistruths, or any other vague phrase denying the existence of logical reality. These are lies.
This is not to claim that these men are purposefully lying to their constituents, for one cannot know the full reasoning behind these statements. However, their factual inaccuracies leave room for only two possibilities. Either they are unaware of the policy analyses provided by those whose job it is to study terrorism, or they are choosing to misrepresent the information to the American public.
On September 13, 2016 the Cato Institute — a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to public policy research — released a risk analysis on the connection between terrorism and immigration. The study is the first of its kind to discuss the different visa categories terrorists have used to enter the United States. A report of such obvious relevance to the President’s EO would seem to be required reading for all those charged with the order’s defense. However, given the statements made by the 80 plus Republicans who support the EO, clearly few are aware of the research.
The report provided by the Cato Institute analyzed “154 foreign-born terrorists in the United States who killed 3,024 people in attacks from 1975 through the end of 2015.” From this data set, it extrapolated the risk any American faces of being killed by a foreign born terrorist. During the time frame studied (which includes the attacks on 9/11) the chance of an American perishing on U.S. soil by an attack committed by a foreign-born terrorist was 1 in 3.6 million per year. To put this in perspective, the odds of drowning in your own bathtub are approximately 1 in 840,000.
What makes this risk analysis so integral to the current discussion surrounding immigration and foreign-born terrorism, is the regard given to the categories of visas that these terrorists used to get to America. While the majority of support that President Trump has garnered for his EO is based on the influx of refugees fleeing war torn countries in the Middle East — citing concerns that terrorists are hiding amongst those running from a life of death and destruction — it is important to note that during the time period studied by the Cato Institute the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee was 1 in 3.64 billion per year. In fact, during this time frame there were only three noted deaths caused by refugees — all who fled Cuba during the 1970s and had been admitted before the Refugee Act of 1980 put forth the modern-day rigorous refugee-screening procedures that are still in place to this day.
Since those three deaths, there hasn’t been a single American killed by a refugee in a terrorist attack, despite Mr. Giuliani’s claims that there is “substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”
The systematic vetting procedures put forth in 1980 is doing exactly what the law is supposed to do — it’s working. Perhaps we have become so used to Congressional gridlock that we cannot recognize successful legislation anymore. Members of the GOP who are calling for stricter screenings and “extreme vetting” are willfully ignoring the success of the procedures already in place, in order to push forth personal agendas.
Additionally, terrorists that entered this country as illegal immigrants have posed an even smaller risk to American lives since 1975. Ahmed Ajaj, one of the 1993 World Trade Center conspirators, is the only illegal immigrant to have successfully killed an American citizen in a terrorist attack during this time frame. The chance of an American citizen being killed by an illegal immigrant in a terrorist attack is 1 in 10.9 billion.
You have a better chance winning the PowerBall Lottery than being killed by a terrorist who came here illegally. But in the words of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), thank goodness the President is finally taking the “first step toward securing our country from illegal immigration.”
Government officials often reference the greater peril we face as a post 9/11 society in order to push for policies intended to fight terrorism. While there are still many horrific instances of lives being lost at the hands of extremists around the globe, this tactic of fear mongering does not represent the entire picture. From 1975 to September 10, 2001, 17 Americans were killed by foreign born terrorists, while from September 12, 2001 until 2015 there were 24 instances.
While this does show a rise in the number of foreign-born terrorist related deaths on U.S. soil, it fails to take into account the greater number of successful terrorist attacks committed by native-born Americans. 305 Americans were murdered by native-born terrorists pre 9/11, and 80 were murdered in the time frame following. In the scope of modern-day terrorism, American citizens face a much greater threat from each other than they do from foreign forces.
Since 9/11 there have been 28 domestic terrorist attacks that resulted in fatalities, according to New America, the think tank formerly known as the New America Foundation. Of these 28, the majority were perpetrated by right-wing extremists. Only ten were linked to Islamic extremists.
Donald Trump’s travel ban singled out seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. He claimed it would limit the ability of those who might “bear hostile attitudes” to the United States from entering the country. The attacks on September 11th are listed as reasoning for the executive order, despite the fact that none of the hijackers originated from the aforementioned banned countries. In fact, in their research, the Cato Institute arrived at a shocking conclusion — not a single American citizen has been murdered by a terrorist originating from one of the seven countries affected by the ban since 1975. All of the data that is currently available suggests that the threat of terrorism lies elsewhere, yet pundits like Giuliani still claim this ban has basis in factual evidence.
It does not.
Contrary to the rhetoric currently in play, the travel ban put forth by the President does not protect American lives. Trump is either oblivious to the current research regarding the intersect of terrorism and immigration, or willfully ignoring facts. Refugees and illegal immigrants are significantly less likely to commit acts of terrorism than other visa groupings. The two most likely groups? Lawful permanent residents and tourists.
Instead of politicizing the crisis in Syria to push forward anti-Muslim propaganda, lawmakers should be focused on what they claim to be extremely concerned about — the actual, factual threats to American lives and wellbeing. This travel ban has nothing to do with the safety of the American public, and those that claim it does are doing a disservice to the constituents that hired them. And as for the man who signed this order?
On this Mr. President, I believe we can all agree. I look forward to the day you begin living up to your duty.