Donald Trump’s controversial immigration and refugee ban sparked a firestorm of both opposition among his detractors and support among those in favor of the president. Whether or not the ban is legal is a matter for the courts, but what sort of moral grounds exist for such a drastic order?
The official basis for the implementation of Donald Trump’s immigration ban is the enhancement and protection of American interests within the nation itself. National security and the potential liability for terrorists sneaking into the United States under the guise of immigration or refugee status have been the focus of those supporting the ban.
Probably the main point of moral contention over the issue is American security vs. American compassion. Many of the people I have spoken with who are in favor of the ban point out that if even 1 percent of a thousand refugees or immigrants are terrorists, that is 10 terrorists entering the country. On the other hand, those who have expressed their disapproval of Trump’s executive order focus more on ensuring those in need can be safe, or that immigrants can start a new life in America.
For those who support the ban, their main focus tends to be ensuring Americans are safe regardless of the cost to non-Americans. It is a classic “Us vs. Them” scenario. It has been pointed out that most of the terrorist attacks in Europe occurred by Muslim extremists. They point out (whether or not it is factual) that lesser acts of terrorism occur fairly frequently in places like France. According to a 2002 story by the New York Times referencing political unrest in France, “Yet Arab gangs regularly vandalize synagogues here, the North African suburbs have become no-go zones at night, and the French continue to shrug their shoulders.” Other news outlets have reported significant unrest in other areas where large numbers of Middle-Eastern refugees or immigrants have settled. Sweden has come under fire for the significant number of arson-related cases where numerous vehicles have been burned. Whether or not these cases are true is less relevant than the fact they are perceived to be true.
The morality of Trump’s ban is the perception of its value to effect internal American safety and the belief the ban will help protect Americans. Wanting your family and yourself to be safe is perfectly reasonable. Those who support this ban value that safety, the safety of friends, family, and self, above that over people who are not even Americans.
Another much less popular point is that if no Muslims were allowed in America, no terrorist attacks would take place. Now there are plenty of flaws with that line of reasoning, but one thing in its favor is that most of the biggest terrorist attacks made in the US over the last 20 or so years have been by Muslim terrorists. As such, those who hold to that logic can easily claim the ban to be an excellent measure, or even just a first step, in ensuring American security. Bluntly, I disagree with the point, but it needs to be made to understand the rationale behind some of the arguments for the morality of Donald Trump’s executive order.
On the other hand, those who oppose the ban tend to emphasize freedom and safety for all humans, American or not. America really was built by immigrants. Every white and black person in America is an immigrant, whether their ancestors came voluntarily or not. The Statue of Liberty proclaims her support of immigrants, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
As such, banning a group simply because of a risk that a very small percentage (and unlikely to be a full one or two percent) are going to plan terrorist actions against America is unthinkable. Keeping a family from Syria from finding safety on the off-chance one of them might be the next Orlando shooter is less moral to ban-opposers than letting that family breathe free without fear of a mortar shell going off in the market or a bomb falling on their home.
Ultimately, the moral grounds for Donald Trump’s immigration ban depends on the moral perspective of the individual in question. Whether or not it will be upheld by the courts is another question entirely.
So what are your thoughts on the morality of Trump’s immigration ban? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!
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