Trump’s ban on refugees is a blot on American values

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Veterans in Providence, R.I., demonstrates against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris in 2015.
Veterans in Providence, R.I., demonstrates against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris in 2015. Associated Press

And just like that, the paradigm shifted.

With the stroke of a pen, President Trump made this nation less safe and more discriminatory. He dismissed the basic processes of responsible governance and America’s open-hearted values all at once.

Last week, the president’s umpteenth executive order slammed the door on all refugees and on others from a carefully curated list of predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The bans are temporary. The damage is longer lasting. Our terrorist enemies, no doubt, are giving each other high-fives.

In his pledge to fight terrorism, Trump conveniently ignored that a majority of domestic attacks have been perpetrated by home-grown terrorists — and not all of them Muslim. No refugees from these countries have attacked us domestically; he and his administration were so slipshod in pushing the order through, that they didn’t give a passing thought to green-card holders, permanent U.S. residents. Until the administration relented, they, too, were barred from coming into the United States, their home, caught up in the pandemonium and fear at domestic airports and abroad, and even while still in mid-flight.

It pretends Syrian refugees, fleeing almost certain death, are not adequately vetted before they enter the United States. In reality, their vetting process takes up to two years, likely far longer than any scrutiny Trump gave his cabinet nominees.

Trump didn’t even fully consult with Homeland Security officials. They were in the middle of their first briefing on the matter when he signed the order. Maybe they would have given him a heads-up about the permanent residents.

Trump swears his action doesn’t target people because of their religion. Of course, it does. He and his true believers think the rest of us are fools. Trump has had Muslims in his sights since early in his campaign. And his plan to give priority to Christian refugees, further exposed the lie for what it was.

The outcry from Congress has been tepid, with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham the few vocal opponents in the GOP. Democratic lawmakers, trying to regain their mojo, need to capitalize on the massive protests to the ban across the country. They are trying to pass legislation to rescind it. But there simply aren’t enough Republicans who will join them.

Such a shame.

Saturday, federal judges in New York and Boston barred the deportation of some refugees affected by the order while still in transit.

Monday, Trump fired Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates after she ordered the Justice Department to not defend the executive order in court and to “stand for what is right.” Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, and on her way out anyway. Yates’ directive was the right one, and she can leave with her head held high.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, notably, were left off the list. Trump clearly isn’t a student of history: The vast majority of the 9/11 terrorists — 15 — were from Saudi Arabia, plus Osama bin Laden was born there. The remaining 9/11 hijackers were from Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE. Trump, though, is ever the businessman having, according to the New York Times, registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia in 2015. Trump, of course, is not the first president to treat Saudi Arabia with kid gloves — oil rules.

But in keeping his promise to upend the status quo, the president upended people’s lives in the process, throwing cold water on the perception that the United States is, by and large, a welcoming nation. He created the kind of chaos upon which he thrives, then spins into everyone’s fault but his own.

Editor’s note: This editorial was update to reflect President Trump’s firing of the acting U.S. attorney general.