This post — which is my debut over here at The Jeff (my term, for which I’m sure admonishment from the Boss is coming) — began percolating in my head as soon as I read about President Trump’s plan to suspend accepting refugees from Syria and, for a time, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen (details in The New York Times).
The purpose behind the proposed executive order, which actually won’t be signed until tomorrow, is to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil. It’s a simple enough purpose – simple enough to be simplistic. Daesh (a.k.a Islamic State) and the mullahcracy of Tehran can easily work around the stated six. South Sudan is a near-perfect halfway house for operatives from Sudan and Somalia, while the United Arab Emirates could serve for the rest. Moreover, lest we forget, the major terrorist attacks on America soil this century were committed by Saudis, Chechens (that’s Russia), and Americans descended from Central Asia.
Meanwhile, those desperate to escape the tyranny of Tehran and its minions (veterans of the 2009 Green Movement and the original anti-Assad movement of 2011), Libyans who overthrew Qaddafi just to turn around and have to fight off Daesh, officials of the stable but unrecognized ministate of Somaliland – in other words, the kind of folks who support democracy and want freedom for themselves and their fellow compatriots – are now blocked from safe haven in the United States. The policy is symbolically loud but substantively lacking. Indeed, it’s actually counterproductive in that it hurts our friends while doing nothing to our adversaries who would do us harm.
Does any of that sound familiar? Does it not echo in the arguments over gun control? How often have conservatives and libertarians – rightly so, in my view – pointed out the discrepancy between wishful thinking and actual reality behind so many gun control initiatives?
That’s when it became clear to me: Immigration control is the right’s version of gun control. The same emotions come to the fore – anger over violence done to Americans, the feeling of needing to “do something”, the false security of bans or restrictions. The same realities intrude – the resourcefulness of the enemy making anything outside of military action (or support for those willing to conduct military action) against them useless, the damage done to liberty, the trust in government’s ability to monitor what it has failed to monitor well for decades or more, and the unintended but very damaging consequences done to decent people.
In this instance, Donald Trump may be trying to send our enemies a message, but they will see a how-to manual instead. Meanwhile, those who would be most likely to help us are now also most likely to be kept from our shores.
I leave it others to discuss what dark and discriminatory impulses may fuel Trump’s belief in the policies he is implementing (and I remain convinced said impulse are not shared by many of his allies on this issue). The leader of this publication has repeatedly railed against the Malthusian nonsense behind many on the immigration restriction side, and I can never match his eloquence in that regard.
For me, because the “security argument” made me a restrictionist for a time after 11 September 2001, it is the utter contradiction behind it that has the greatest impact on me. In short, restricting immigration will not make us safer anymore than restricting gun ownership will. In fact, both can be classified as badly counterproductive.