“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
— Emma Lazarus “New Colossus”
Those supporting President Donald Trump’s executive order closing U.S. borders to the residents of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — argue the need for better vetting of immigrants to our country should be paramount.
Our question — at what price?
When our desire for security is so great that it diminishes our humanity and our capacity or willingness to see the world through the eyes of another and sacrifices American ideals, we lose a precious part of who we were designed to be. Our hearts are hardened, calcified.
You have to go back to Sept. 11, 2001, to come up with a case of American citizens killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by someone who came to the country from the Middle East. And of those 19 men affiliated with al-Qaipda, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon. They all were in this country legally, and none of them are from the countries President Trump singled out for vetting.
With the exception of a major refugee crisis, it already takes five, or more years, for citizens of the seven named countries to obtain permission to enter the United States. They cannot simply hop on a plane in the morning and be free in American communities that night.
The Cato Institute — a public policy research organization — estimates the odds of an average American being killed by a refugee-turned-terrorist in a given year at 1 in 3.64 billion.
While Trump fulfilled one of the campaign pledges that ultimately got him elected as the 45th president, the executive order and policy his administration have put in place will not improve national security and most likely will undermine America’s efforts to combat Islamic extremism and terrorism around the world. The executive order is now a new recruiting tool for ISIS and al-Qaida.
America has always welcomed immigrants and refugees as that shining city on a hill for those who wish to start a new life and escape death and persecution in their homeland. When we come alongside those who are suffering, those who are in need, when we give just a little of ourselves, it is we who gain the most.
To compromise our compassion — what makes us human — is a win for the terrorists of the world.