Opinion: Restricting immigration based on religion

Opinion from The Daily Athenaeum

In our Jan. 11 issue we asked how people felt about restricted immigration based on religion. At the time the question was because new pick for Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued the idea on the senate floor for more than 20 minutes. The responses are relevant now however because it has become a reality.

“I think restricting certain people of a religion from entering the country is very hypocritical from what was first instilled into the country,” said sophomore Nadiva Sutton.

“We have extremists here too, they are in all religions,” said sophomore Erika Hunter.

“Why does it matter what religion they have? They are still humans. They still deserve to be here just as much as everybody else,” said senior Aje Douglas.

While Trump’s executive order signed Friday doesn’t deny immigrants’ entrance to America based on their religion, it does ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Along with this, the order blocks all refugee’s admission to the country through May. And all this comes only one year after admitting a record number of Muslim refugees in 2016.

Trump’s order outlined that immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen are banned from entry to the United States for 90 days.

Trump said immigrants from those seven countries “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. And I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.”

But why target these seven places? What can countries do to avoid making this restrictive list?

For starters, doing business with Trump himself seems to be a great way to avoid immigration restriction.

Turkey has seen numerous terrorist attacks in the last few months, with a nightclub attack on Dec. 31 killing at least 39 people. The White House has specifically warned travelers about the area citing, “an increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against US citizens.” Add to this the fact that Turkey is a Muslim-majority population and it seems like it would fit Trump’s bill as discriminable. But it isn’t included.

Trump has earned more than $6 million in Turkey as of his 2015 financial disclosure form, according to the Washington Post.

Russia has seen brutal human rights violations when it comes to the LGBTQ community, a major factor in the countries that did make this list. In Russia homosexuality was illegal until 1993, and was even deemed a mental illness until 1999. Its leader also ordered an influence campaign assisting Donald Trump and discrediting Hillary Clinton during the National Election according to the FBI and CIA, a direct attack on democracy.

But Russia also isn’t included.

While the picks deserve criticism, the executive order to block immigrants from specific countries itself is an unprecedented and overreaching move. It’s arbitrary, volatile, and oppressive, regardless of how bad Trump wants to stick to campaign promises.

Under the federal discrimination laws, one cannot be denied rights or privileges based on national identity, religion, disability, age, gender, race and/or skin color. Why is this okay based on country of origin?

We are a nation of immigrants.

While Trump didn’t deny this aspect of the discussion, to disproportionately apply immigration restriction based on religion and nationality has our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves. More than this, though, it pretends that by arriving here first we are more entitled to the country than anyone else.

For those confused on how this might be a bad thing, picture the settlers of Jamestown putting together some text on a page that declared “now that we’re here, no more.” Imagine if the natives who were here long before them had done the same.

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