Dialing Back to a More Shameful Time
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President Trump campaigned on rhetoric that most in our community view as offensive, even archaic in today’s America.
Equating Mexican immigrants to rapists and criminals, mocking a disabled reporter and building a wall on the border of the US and Mexico were just some of the things that made many Americans think we were listening to a candidate running for president in 1916, not 2016.
Perhaps his most appalling campaign promise was to institute a restriction on Muslim immigration.
In the aftermath of the 2015 San Bernandino shootings, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what is going on.”
He later modified this proposal to what appeared in his Jan. 27 executive order, which included a ban on Syrian refugee resettlement, limited the number of refugees allowed in the US to 50,000 for 2017 and banned all immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, including Iraq, Iran and Syria.
This order prompted the Beachwood City Council to pass a resolution against the order. Superintendent Dr. Bob Hardis sent an e-mail informing the community that even though the order seemed like news irrelevant to our community, it did, in fact, have an effect on some children and families, given that many parents utilize green cards for work, and have family from the countries effected.
After hearing the decision by the panel, our stalwart Commander-in-chief tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” despite the fact that the issue had already been seen by two courts and struck down by each.
Now the Trump administration is drafting a new version of the travel ban they hope will survive court scrutiny.
But given the chaos and controversy that the initial order caused, it wasn’t the best idea, for more than a couple of reasons.
We need only look back at our history to understand why this executive order isn’t consistent with America’s core values of inclusion and tolerance.
Trump’s action harkens back to 1882, when Congress passed The Chinese Exclusion Act, which suspended the immigration of Chinese workers for a period of 10 years, and forced every Chinese individual going in and out of the country to carry an identification certificate.
Despite assertions that the act would expire in 10 years, it only emboldened Congress to do more, with the passage of the Scott Act, which made it impossible for anyone to re-enter the US after visiting China and ballooned to eventually include Hawaii and the Phillipines. It wasn’t repealed until 1943.
These exclusionary policies are from a period that we look back on with shame, because they violate the principles America was founded on, including the idea that no one should be discriminated against for their religious beliefs.
Trump’s executive order, which singles out Muslim-majority countries and purports to make exemptions for other religious groups from the same countries, clearly violates this principle.
This religious discrimination is one of the main issues that we, as a staff, take with President Trump’s actions. Not only does this have no place in a country that can, for the vast majority, trace its history back to immigrants, but it could usher in an era of extreme discrimination against Muslims, barring a whole group of people from this country simply because of their religion.
There has to be a better way to ensure we are keeping all of our citizens safe from Islamic terror, one that doesn’t take us back to the darker periods in our history.