It’s safe to say Donald Trump’s refugee ban has fallen short of lessening people’s fears of terrorism.
After passing an executive order Friday barring refugees and immigrants from seven major Muslim countries while deporting some who are already in the United States, many people quickly rose up in opposition. Protesters gathered at major airports in New York City, Seattle, Denver and several other cities, while the American Civil Liberties Union raked in an estimated $24 million dollars from donors. Several federal judges blocked parts of the order due to lawsuits led by immigrants from affected countries. Sally Yates, acting attorney general, even issued an order to the justice department not to uphold the ban as long as she is in office, on the grounds that it could be unconstitutional. She did so even at the cost of her position.
Of course, there were those who supported the action. Trump had made the promise during his campaign that he would act to block immigrants and refugees, on the grounds that it could allow potential terrorists a way into the country. His supporters have stood behind this, saying that the ban will give the country time to develop a stricter vetting process to prevent such threats from entering the country.
To be fair, terrorism is a valid concern in this day and age. The past couple of years have seen a myriad of attacks on many Western countries, including the U.S., with many citizens now afraid of potential attacks by the Islamic State and other terror groups. People are afraid of this far off unknown, this threat that could be anyone at anytime. They wanted a way to combat this fear and illuminate who it might be.
And that’s exactly what’s wrong with the recent executive action. It further placed those from Muslim countries in the spotlight as dangerous elements instead of people. He gave them the face of someone different, someone with a foreign religion from a far off place who could be a monster in disguise.
Terrorism will never be that simple. You can’t isolate it to a specific location or people. If anything, this ban has thrown fuel on the fire for people joining terrorist cells. Both Barrack Obama and George Bush were advised against such bans on refugees and immigrants because it gave fuel to propaganda used by terrorist cells like the Islamic State. It feeds the notion that the west is uncaring of the rest of the world and gives their claims a weight it needs to even exist.
Beyond that, it won’t stop any home grown acts of terrorism. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine Massacre, James Holmes of the Aurora Theater Shooting and Robert Lewis Dear Jr. of the Planned Parenthood Shooting were all terrorists in their own right. The current executive order would do nothing to curb the actions of those like them in the future. They will continue to occur while the blame for the wider face of terrorism falls on those who did nothing except come from a different place than us.
And yet, in the face of this problem rooted throughout the world, there is an option that can at least lessen the impact of terrorism: Cut at its roots by fostering understanding, communication and compassion. Where supporters of terrorism are bolstered by the closing of borders, counter it with help offered to refugees during times of war and suffering. Where some have sewn chaos with bombs and gunfire, counter it with acts of generosity toward the victims. When refugees ask for a safe place to rebuild their lives, offer them a helping hand and a place to stay until their home is safe again.
Make this country one that welcomes those of all groups, regardless of what they believe in or where they came from. They are just as human as us, and they deserve the same amount of respect. There’s nothing great about an America that turns away those seeking a better life.