Opinion: Trump’s immigration ban will only increase Middle East hostility

Nicholas Hunter

Nicholas Hunter

In the two weeks since President Donald Trump has taken office, sleep has not been had.

Whether you agree with his policies or not, since he signed his first executive order, which stated his intent to reevaluate, dismantle and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Oval Office has been a paper storm of executive orders and official statements. It has been so chaotic that NPR has created a day-by-day breakdown of what he has done so far.

Arguably, the most notable executive order that Trump signed is his immigration ban, which blocked all people from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the U.S. 

First, I want to be clear: this ban was targeted at Muslim people. There are other reasons the Trump administration has given to justify their choice in target countries. I am not inclined to believe there is any other motive than playing into Islamophobia.

The ban used the false narrative that unvetted Syrian refugees are pouring into the U.S. to give it credibility, which could be easily debunked if the actual process to gain legal residence into the country was widely understood.

The immigration process is unbelievably thorough, in reality. It often takes years to complete the vetting process for immigrants to enter the U.S. It’s not as simple as hopping on a plane or boat and strolling through the streets. For refugees, the vetting takes even longer.

The misinformation surrounding immigration policy and statistics in the U.S., specifically pertaining to Middle Eastern people, is not only damaging to politics going forward and to the people seeking refuge or to immigrate, but it is straining the already tenuous relationships we have with Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries, as well as our very own Muslim citizens.

Trump and his administration are using national security as the argument for implementing the ban, and claimed that it was executed so hastily because they didn’t want to give immigrants the chance to pour in last minute.

If you remember that the immigration process does not happen over the course of a few months, let alone overnight, then you know there’s no reason to rush this broad of an executive order. There should be at least enough time to notify the departments that this impacted so it could roll out smoothly.

But that wasn’t what happened.

The people tasked with enforcing this ban did not know what to do. People with green cards were detained in airports. Immigrants who had spent years working to legally come to the U.S. saw their dreams go up in smoke. Muslim people worldwide were discriminated against by Trump’s signature scrawled on a piece of paper.

Luckily, recent developments have potentially changed their fortunes. James Robart, a judge for the United States District Court in Seattle, struck down Trump’s executive order, blocking it nationwide. Alongside Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice appealed the ruling, which is still pending.

As we speak, the State Department is working on reinstating the 60,000 visas that were revoked by the ban. This is great news, and seeing other parts of the federal government stand up against this ban is emboldening, to say the least.

But that doesn’t change the message that Trump has sent. By even trying to pass the ban, he has betrayed the hundreds of thousands who have worked their entire lives to experience what it is to be American.

He has told Muslim citizens that they are not welcome and that they would be gone, too, if he had his way.

And most dangerously, he has sent a message of intolerance and hate worldwide, that all of our allies and enemies have no doubt heard.

Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].