Policies like the travel ban and increased surveillance do very little to fight terrorism. The ban itself, for starters, hardly even does anything to prevent deaths by terrorism in the United States. Out of the 3.25 million refugees let in by the country in the past 40 years, only 20 have been arrested on terrorism charges or .0006%. Only three Americans have actually been killed by these terrorists. Therefore, no notable danger is presented to the U.S. by these refugees more than any demographic in fact those who immigrate to the U.S. in search of opportunity and betterment have been shown to have lower crime rates than naturalized American citizens time and time again. The U.S. already utilizes the most exhaustive and thorough vetting process in the world it is identified in its entirety here.
Most of the actual terrorists that kill Americans are natives of the United States, also most of them are white supremacists and not Muslims. Policies like the travel ban will not prevent these people from committing these despicable acts, as they are already in the country. New America says that “[E]very jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident.” The way to understand how to protect American people from terrorism is to understand what motivates these American natives, not to block refugees from entering the country.
The way that policies like the travel ban and increased surveillance interact with American people, especially Muslims in this case, are the reason why they are counterproductive. The travel ban would do very little to protect Americans from terrorism. Increased surveillance, although impossible to predict exactly, would also not do very much, as there is no way to circumvent every possible shortfall, like Omar Mateen (the Orlando shooter) who was already under surveillance before he carried out his attack. While these policies don’t effectively quell terrorism, they do inexorably create a political climate that is antagonistic and inhospitable to Muslims. The travel ban specifically creates a feeling that Muslims are not welcome in the United States, that the American people are scared of Muslims coming in despite the infinitesimal amount of actual danger they present. Allowing for increased surveillance conveys the message that the American government does not trust Muslims not to carry out terrorist attacks, despite the fact that there will almost assuredly be exceptions. If American Muslims feel like they don’t belong here, if they feel like their only way to be heard is through violence and intimidation, that is when terrorism will occur. That, not refugees from Muslim-majority countries, is the real danger that America must address.
While the travel ban and increased surveillance clearly do not benefit the U.S. or the battle against terror there is one group of people it clearly does benefit: terrorists. WhenTrump became president elect and the travel ban was introduced both Islamophobic hate crimes like the attack in Portland and ISIS recruitment has increased, showing that terrorism, even of completely opposing views, flourished as a result of the ban rather than quelling it. Put simply, this travel ban makes this country more susceptible to terrorist attacks of all kinds.
The failure of the ban is visible in the loopholes that can be exploited in cities like Boston and Los Angeles, which are able to declare themselves sanctuary cities and accept travelers, immigrants, and refugees from all nations. Additionally, these cities can not be compelled to enforce federal law under the Tenth Amendment. While some federal courts bemoan the practice and others support it, it is still very viable and many immigrants can circumvent the travel ban by choosing to travel to one of these cities as opposed to their original destination. This is all to say that the travel ban doesn’t even actually ban travel.
In summary, the travel ban and increased surveillance on Muslim communities does nothing to effectively protect American citizens from terrorism, but instead bolsters the recruiting and incidence of many types of terror, alienates and targets Muslim Americans, distracts from the actual source of American terrorism and doesn’t work.
Today Americans face a terrifying and dangerous threat, particularly in the form of radical Islamic terrorism. With this ongoing threat that has already taken the lives of countless American civilians, it’s not the time to be politically correct and jeopardize our safety. Our response to this threat should include increased surveillance and President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which is an essential policy to ensure the safety of Americans.
The “travel ban” implemented by President Trump is a temporary halt on the issuing of visas from 6 (originally 7) nations that the Attorney General, Homeland Security Secretary, alongside the President and others claim is “a risk to our national security”, those nations being Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The Council on Foreign Relations classifies the conflicts in Libya and Syria involving ISIS, Ansar Al-Sharia, and other radical Islamic terrorist organizations as having critical impacts on the United States and its interests. Furthermore, Somalia’s conflict also poses a great threat to our security as the Somalian militant group, Al-Shabaab, a branch of the radical Islamic terror group, Al-Qaeda, continues to commit acts of transnational terror. Additionally, Al-Qaeda has a stronghold in Yemen as their civil war wages on. The activity going on in Yemen regarding Al-Qaeda has been categorized by CFR as having a significant threat to the U.S. and its interests. With these areas of extreme conflict involving actors that pose a critical threat to our national security, it’s only logical to put a temporary halt on issuing visas to individuals from these nations in order to prevent a potential act of terror on our soil. As Attorney General Sessions and former Homeland Security Secretary Kelly wrote that “At present, more than 300 persons who came to the United States as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities” when discussing the travel ban. Many critics of this ban argue that homegrown terror accounts for more terror attacks today than attacks by individuals originating from foreign nations, however, preventing and responding to terrorism at home encompasses thousands of national security personnel across the federal government, law enforcement resources are inefficiently diverted to investigating individuals that enter the nation with risk for terrorism and could be spent on efforts to stop homegrown terror by simply halting immigration from areas with a high national security and terror risk.
Temporarily ceasing immigration from areas with a high risk of terror is an effective solution to protect people from terrorism, which is why President Trump’s travel ban had some minimal drawbacks. Although the nations of Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen were effective selections to put on the list, other nations such as Sudan and Iran were inappropriate selections. The conflict in Sudan is a civil war that involves zero affiliation with or presence of any radical Islamic terrorism; the conflict is instead a complex series of political disputes involving the nation of South Sudan, the U.S. has minimal interests there and the CFR confirms that the Sudanese conflict has minimal impacts on the United States. Iran was another, and bigger mistake to put on the travel ban list. Iran is currently combatting ISIS forces in Iraq, has never had any citizen commit an act of terror in the U.S., nor is there any presence of any terror or terror affiliated groups as there aren’t conflicts in the region. If the travel ban is to protect people from terrorism, it should exercise its policy on nations that have a history of its citizens committing acts of terror, such as Saudi Arabia, who has had 19 terrorists responsible for 2,369 deaths according to the Cato Institute.
It is absolutely necessary to continue the battle against terrorism at home. In order to prevent homegrown terror, surveillance is a necessary tool to use in order to keep a watch over suspicious individuals. Homegrown terrorists almost always show evidence of their ideas through their use of social media and other electronic device activity. If surveillance is able to raise a red flag, the individual can be further investigated and scrutinized by federal law enforcement. A huge part of preventing homegrown terror is to stop the act before it occurs, and the law enforcement has been fairly effective at that. If surveillance continues and develops in a manner that does not invade privacy, homegrown terror can and will be stopped. Public social media access will play a significant role in this, and I believe it’s absolutely essential. If individuals have nothing to hide, they should welcome such policies for their own safety instead of making wild allegations of such policies being discriminatory. radical Islamic terrorism is discriminatory as it targets anyone who is not a Sunni or Wahhabist Muslim extremist that assiduously practices Sharia Law. These terrorists want to strike fear into our minds through death, destruction, and overall chaos. We need to disregard political correctness keep surveillance on suspicious individuals for the sake of our own safety. Because quite frankly, the freedom for Americans to live in a country free from the fear of terrorism is not something we can compromise.
By Will Henshon (No) and Arya Amuzgar (Yes)