Following promulgation of the most recent executive order from the White House, establishing a 90-day suspension for visa issuance or entry into the U.S. of alien nationals from certain specified high-risk countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen), all hell broke loose.
Actually, the EO contains many significant facets, but most of them got lost in the shouting that prevailed.
Being held temporarily by U.S. border inspection officers can’t be any fun, but there’s just no comparison with the way detained individuals are treated by officials in any of the seven named countries.
Rowdy demonstrations were held at international airports and city centers in various parts of the country; international leaders issued solemn denunciations; three lawsuits were filed and temporary stays issued to enjoin that part of the EO which might result in actual removal of an alien who was in transit when it was issued, and arrived subsequently at a port of entry, and one even to enjoin detention and directing Customs and Border Protection to tell airlines to permit affected travelers to board — although both are probably judicial overreach given the government’s broad powers at U.S. borders.
Of course, Anthony Romero of the ACLU was on camera to assure Americans that all was well as long as his organization was there to safeguard democracy. This is the same man who justifies sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to turn alien criminals over to federal immigration authorities, even in the face of repeated evidence that such aliens frequently commit crimes such as murder and sexual assault as the result of being returned to the community.
Officials from both Iran and Iraq chimed in to say that reciprocity would apply. On a personal level, this was deeply disturbing: Hearing the news, I had to reluctantly tell my wife we’d need to change our spring vacation plans — that cruise of a lifetime in and around the Shatt al Arab, with charming detours to Fallujah, Mosul, Anarak, and Natanz was no longer possible.
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I won’t say all of the kerfuffle was unjustified: The White House might have done a better job of rolling out this EO and so avoided some of the trauma and drama — but in the end, it affected a total (at current figures) of 173 persons denied boarding and 109 held up at entry ports out of the hundreds of thousands who entered the United States in the past couple of days. Most of those 109 were kept a period of hours and then released.
Consider that in the course of a year, port of entry inspectors send about 5 million aliens annually into secondary inspection, of whom over 200,000 are denied admission. This weekend’s tally is a drop in the bucket by comparison — but you wouldn’t know that from the hue and cry. Generally that’s because many Americans, and especially open borders advocates, seem to be dewey-eyed when it comes to realizing how many seriously bad people try to penetrate our ports of entry every day.
Being held temporarily by U.S. border inspection officers can’t be any fun, but there’s just no comparison with the way detained individuals are treated by officials in any of the seven named countries — where any officials can be found acting in an official capacity, that is. Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are failed states where no fully functional government currently exists, but where terrorist and Islamic extremists can be found in abundance — the very individuals the EO was designed to protect us against.
Yet even when there are functioning governments, they have no rational basis to decry U.S. policies. Consider, for example, the treatment our sailors received when interdicted by Iranian gunboats in January 2016 in the Persian Gulf, or the detention of American Jason Rezaian by Iranian officials for more than two years, or the arrest and conviction of Amir Hekmati, an American and former Marine of Iranian descent who was sentenced to death, which was later commuted to 10 years imprisonment.
Finally consider that no one was killed, injured, or maimed in the making of this EO. Can we say the same about the failed policies of the Obama administration, which repeatedly demonstrated President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to safeguard the public by exercising either wisdom or caution in his relentless determination to ensure that virtually all applications for immigration benefits resulted in grants? We cannot. Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Ohio State University, and Fort Lauderdale are just a few of the reasons the way our government has been doing business cannot and should not be sustained any longer.
Dan Cadman, a Center for Immigration Studies fellow, is a retired INS/ICE official with thirty years of government experience. Cadman served as a senior supervisor and manager at headquarters, as well as at field offices both domestically and abroad.