Vetting already extreme

To the Editor,

 

An open letter to Montana’s Congressional Delegation,

On Jan. 27 President Trump issued an executive order that suspended entry into the United States by aliens from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. The order also blocked Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. until “extreme vetting” measures are established. The order, the President said, would “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.”  On Feb. 3 a federal judge blocked the order; days later the 9th Circuit agreed with him.  Since then the President has tweeted “see you in court” and, more recently, promised “a brand new order” that would pass legal muster.

As this squabble continues, Montana’s Senators and its Representative should share these facts with the White House:

The order conflates Muslim-majority populations with terrorism.  In fact, we know of no terrorist act that has been perpetrated on American soil by an emigrant from one of the countries at which the order is aimed.

The order segregates Islam from other religions and Muslim-majority nationals from other individuals. In fact, in the United States it is illegal, unconstitutional and, well, wrong, to discriminate against persons on the basis of religion or national origin.

The order pretends that Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the United States are not properly vetted.  In fact, vetting begins with the UN, and moves through the U.S. Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, and the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center. The process takes 18-24 months to complete; 50 percent of its applicants are rejected. “Of all the different ways to enter this country as an immigrant,” says former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “doing so as a refugee is probably the most cumbersome and time consuming.”  No form of vetting short of total prohibition could be more “extreme.” Gentlemen, this open letter comes to you through this media not because of the many Muslim-majority refugees who live in the county. To my knowledge, none do. It comes to you through the News because in 2016 more than 63 percent of the county’s voters cast their ballot for President Trump. His success – and his mistakes – are owned by them. Please share the facts with the President so that his “brand new order” is not just another blunder.

 

Sincerely

Bruce A. Lohof

Red Lodge