Immigration Letter – February 26

I’ve been writing my delegation, from a very Republican state, constantly since January. I’m posting these in the hope there may be some arguments others can use in their letters or articles.

February 26, 2017

I am thankful that the courts have chosen to intervene on this issue and I can understand not wanting to spend valuable time on the legislative calendar on an issue that will likely be settled elsewhere.

I still am unconvinced on the security justification for the executive order. George W. Bush never felt the need to pass such an order even in the wake of 9/11. None of our closest allies have passed such a ban. Great Britain, which has fought beside us through all of this, has not only decided against any refugee ban, but has gone so far as to pass a unanimous resolution condemning the Republican President’s current action.

In short, I find it difficult to trust the judgement of an Administration that believes, in its first week, that it knows more than our past two Presidents and all of our closest allies.

However, I am more worried right now about the impacts of “Extreme Vetting” which has not been covered by the court rulings and has the potential to do much damage to our country’s reputation.

In the past few weeks, I have seen news reports of actions targeted against Muslims by US CIS and CBP agents.

These actions include:

  • A report of a British Citizen, not a dual national and so not part of the order, who was refused entry at a pre-screen in Iceland. He is a school teacher from Wales who was on a class trip to the US, and also a Muslim.
  • A report of a Canadian student athlete who was refused entry to the U.S., supposedly because of a tie to a jihadist he may have known in High School, but the connection was tenuous at best. He is also a Muslim.
  • A report of a Syrian family seeking asylum, so currently allowed entry due to the court situation, who chose to flee US CBP agents through below freezing temperatures to Canada because of the uncertainty about whether they would find safety in the U.S. They are also Muslims.
  • A report of a US Citizen, Muhammad Ali, Jr., who was detained for several hours and nearly refused entry, in spite of a valid US Passport. He is also a Muslim.
  • A couple of reports of US Citizens being denied global travel permits without adequate explanation even though they were originally on track for approval before the Executive Order. They are frequent business travelers that are ordinarily granted such permits without any difficulty, and they are also Muslims.
  • A report of Mem Fox, a 70 year old Australian Children’s author, who was insulted by U.S. Border agents and detained for several hours in Los Angeles. No explanation was given as to why she was treated so, though a formal apology was given later on by the U.S. government. She has traveled to the U.S. hundreds of times and now says she will never do so again.
  • Reports of CBP stopping all travelers on a domestic U.S. flight and forcing them to show ID, even though CBP does not normally act outside of U.S. border crossings.

And these are just the reports that make the news, there may be many others that do not.

I do not know if this is part of some new policy by the Administration, some action taken by CBP and CIS on their own, or simply unconnected incidents that were picked up by the media. And neither does any one else from what I can tell outside of (possibly) the Administration. These actions by themselves would seem to call for some oversight by Congress, but so far no one in the Kansas delegation at least seems willing to look into this, even informally. I understand wanting to concentrate on your own priorities and those of the Republican Party, but public oversight is the best antidote to the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that is affecting U.S. religious minorities, immigrants and visitors to our country.

And this is setting aside the effect this order has had on extremists in the U.S. Since the order was signed, mosques have been burned, people have threatened Jewish Centers and vandalized Jewish Cemeteries. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Garmin engineers in Olathe, KS who were shot by a man who simply hated immigrants.

The lack of transparency by the Republican Administration regarding its current immigration policy, the unnecessary haste in passing the Executive Order, and the lukewarm response towards attacks against religious minorities has shown a complete lack of leadership and is hurting our country’s standing around the world. I hope that Congress will not continue to keep silent or the damage being done may be difficult to repair.