By Caleb Akpan | Opinion Editor
Last year’s presidential election brought many issues to the forefront of American discussion. Amongst these issues were the stability of the economy, health care, gun control, and perhaps the most talked about of them all, immigration.
The immigration policy dominated discussion, led by Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall around the U.S.-Mexico border if elected, and now that he is in office, talks of immigration have not slowed down. President Trump has quickly begun to establish his immigration policies in the White House and is pushing forward with his plans to build the wall.
Issues are already surfacing about the wall’s cost and who will pay for it. President Trump stressed throughout his campaign that it would be Mexico that payed for the expenses of the wall building, and continues to do so in office. Mexico, on the other hand, has continuously refuted Trump’s claim, and the president of the country recently emphasized that Mexico would not pay for a wall to be built.
If the wall has to be paid for by American taxpayers, is that increase in taxes worth what the wall may bring? There is still a strong possibility that illegal immigrants will find ways to bypass a potential wall just as they have border patrol and the fences that line the US-Mexico border at this moment.
Over the course of the last week of January, President Trump additionally enacted executive orders banning travel by refugees to the U.S. These bans stopped all refugee resettlement from the U.S. for four months and Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely. In addition, entry by citizens of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen was blocked for three months.
President Trump stated that the bans were enacted to protect the U.S. from potential terror threats. This point is fair, as terror threats seem to grow stronger worldwide, with organizations like ISIS in the Middle East and Boko Haram in West Africa threatening safety and peace across the globe. Despite this, many have criticized the order for what they see as excessive ruling and discrimination.
While the Trump administration denies it, many consider the travel ban a “Muslim ban”, discriminating against those who practice the religion. All seven of the nations banned from traveling to the US are majority-Muslim, and President Trump himself proposed a shutdown of Muslim immigration following a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015. Other majority-Muslim countries were left out of the executive order entirely, and many argue that most practicing Muslims both already in the states and in the seven countries banned practice their religion in peace.
Studies done across the nation echo that same sentiment. Charles Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, conducted a study that looked at terrorist attack data in relation to Muslim-Americans. The study found that of the 3.3 million Muslims that live here in the U.S, only 46 were linked to extremism both within the country and abroad in 2016. If these proportions stay consistent, it can be questioned whether or not such monumental actions are required to try and slow terrorism down.
The recent bans have affected those living in peace – the women, children and families simply looking for a better life and those who have lived in the U.S. for years with worker and student visas. A five-year-old boy was detained by airport security at Washington Dulles International Airport for hours due to the new laws. The boy was an American citizen and was traveling to the U.S. to reunite with his mother.
Recent court rulings have turned these executive orders into a battle of courts and the national law, and it seems like there is a long way to go before these new laws truly remain intact or go away. They seem to have good intentions, but all they seem to have done so far is divide the nation even further and hurt those who pose no threat to the country.