As readers know I am no Trump fan. I don’t like his narcissism, most of his policies, and much of his style.
But that is not to say he is wrong on everything.
His policy to ban every Muslim in the world from entering the US, either as a migrant or tourist was one of the most reprehensible policies he has had. It treated 1.4 billion identically, that their religious affiliation was all that mattered. It would have treated Malala Yousafzai the same as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
He has now retreated from that, and proposed “extreme vetting”. USA Today reports:
In calling for “extreme vetting” of foreigners entering the United States, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested a return to a 1950s-era immigration standard — since abandoned — that barred entry to people based on their political beliefs.
“We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” Trump said Monday, explaining how he would deter terrorists from entering the U.S.
I think there is a case for vetting on the basis of extreme ideology. Not as Trump describes it though.
Of course anyone who is an actual terrorist will not be allowed to migrate. No-one disagrees with that. But are we saying that anything short of being an actual terrorist is okay? Would you want Anjem Choudary migrating to NZ?
This is where again it is useful to differ between Islam and Islamism. Within Islam you have a huge range of views from those who are incredibly devout and support sharia law as the law of the land to those who are liberal and see their religion as merely something for their personal behaviour.
Christianity has a similar variety from extremely liberal Anglicans to ultra Conservative Catholics to some fundamentalist baptists groups such as Westboro.
Within Islam though those who hold extreme views (such as supporting the death penalty for apostasy) are a significant number. They are not a majority but a large minority.
George Borjas at Politico makes the case for vetting:
In particular, is it really that big a departure from what we have done in the past if we also asked green card applicants: “Do you believe that religious law should supplant the Constitution of the United States?” Or if we asked: “Do you believe that the law should treat people differentially based on their gender, their race, or their sexual orientation?” And would it really be that unreasonable if we had second thoughts about admitting persons who answered those questions in the affirmative? Are there really that many Americans who would disagree with the notion that a reasonable immigration policy should, in Trump’s words, keep out “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred”?
I think we should ask questions to exclude people who for example think apostasy should be a crime.
Of course, it is sensible to wonder whether such filters are effective. I doubt that the 9/11 terrorists admitted in their applications for foreign student visas that they planned to use their flight training to fly planes into the World Trade Center. But the fact that such filtering is far from perfect does not imply that we should not have any filters whatsoever. If nothing else, the perjury in the visa application gives the government an easy way for detaining and deporting dangerous immigrants living in our midst, even after they become American citizens. The falsification or concealment of relevant facts during the application process provides grounds for the removal of a green card, for the revoking of naturalization, and for eventual deportation.
It will not be of course 100% effective but perfect is the enemy of good. Asking such questions would give grounds for removal, but also it may discourage people from migrating to a country where they will not integrate.