While the controversy over excluding foreign-born Muslims from entering the United States rages in the media, we would do well to examine the data regarding immigration from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) — the historical breeding ground for Islamic radicalism.
According to governmental studies of immigration, in 2013 there were 1.02 million immigrants from MENA nationally, representing 2.5 percent of 41.3 million total immigrants and a statistically insignificant number of the total population of approximately 350 million.
The distribution of country of origin reveals 19.8 percent from Iraq; 17.4 percent from Egypt; 12.2 percent from Lebanon; and less than 10 percent from each of the other countries.
In these countries, Christians suffered persecution that made them flee their homeland, and thus they should be factored in along with the Muslim majority. In 2012, 5 percent of the MENA immigrants were issued green cards. Of those, 44 percent were for reunification with relatives; 38 percent for refugees and asylees; 16 percent for diversity; and 5 percent for skilled employment.
More than half of MENA foreign-born live, in descending order, in California, New York, Michigan, Texas and New Jersey. The remainder are scattered throughout the rest of the states.
Now, what do these facts about the relatively small number of immigrants from MENA tell us? That those cynically conjuring up images of men dressed in black with face masks and women in burkas invading our shores are blatantly fear mongering for political purposes.
Admittedly, in any group, there may be some with evil intentions who may not be detected until after a violent action. But to brand the entire populations of these regions as potential terrorists is to appeal to our basest instincts: fear and loathing of others who don't look, act, think, and worship like us.
Sanford J. Smoller,