An Amazingly Honest Discussion of Trump’s Statement on MSNBC

Donald_August_19_(cropped)Whatever else people might think about Donald Trump, he has an undeniable talent for forcing the political and media establishment to discuss issues that most would prefer to avoid.

Since his pronouncement earlier this week that we should temporarily suspend Muslim immigration to the United States, that’s all pretty much everyone has been talking about. It was once again a topic of discussion on Friday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC. What ensued was not what anyone would have expected. In fact, the discussion among hosts Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and three regular news analysts would have been astonishing even if it had been carried out on Fox instead of MSNBC.

All five agreed that the failure of the “rigorous” screening process to detect numerous obvious red flags, both before and after San Bernardino jihadist Tafsheen Malik entered the United States, raises some very serious concerns. All five also stated their opposition to Trump’s solution. (For the record, FAIR also opposes a blanket ban on admission of people based solely on their religion.) Then Scarborough posed a simple and obvious question to his colleagues: Okay, then what would you do instead?

What ensued is exactly what is happening among people all across America who are wrestling with the same question, albeit not on national TV. For next eight minutes or so, all five engaged in a fierce battle, not with Trump, but with themselves – between their intellects and their emotions. As they hemmed and hawed their way through the discussion, all five of the participants admitted honestly that while they are uncomfortable with what Trump said, they don’t have any better ideas themselves.

“We’re going to have to do things that make us uncomfortable,” Scarborough concluded. Sadly, he is correct because the alternative is worse.

Watch the entire MSNBC discussion here.

Dan Stein Discusses Trump’s Remarks on Muslim Immigration

Watch FAIR’s President, Dan Stein, discuss Donald Trump’s plan to temporarily ban all Muslim immigration on NewsmaxTV.

FAIR’s Statement on Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Comments

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The following statement was issued by Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in response to comments made by Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump’s assertion that we categorically bar admission to people based solely on their religious identities is one that runs counter to American values, but is rooted in a grim reality that the Americans can no longer trust the government’s vetting process and its ability to screen out those susceptible to beliefs and actions inconsistent with life in a modern, Western-style democracy.  Certainly this is true at today’s all-time high levels of immigration and non-immigrant entry.  Failure to come to grips with this reality has the potential to radically alter the American way of life and undermine our national freedoms as the U.S. faces a threat of truly unprecedented dimensions.

FAIR does not support immigration restrictions based solely on religious faith in the absence of other factors that indicate an inability to support our constitutional framework.  Yet every nation has the right to exclude people when the manifestation of their religious, political, or ideological beliefs threaten public safety or is fundamentally at odds with the values and freedoms set forth in our Constitution. Moreover, the President retains a statutory authority to suspend any class of aliens he/she deems a threat to the vital security interest of the nation.”

Continue reading the statement here.

History Repeats Itself: What Trump and others can learn from the 1924 Immigration Act

Donald_August_19_(cropped)The evolution of terrorism and spread of the Islamic state is forcing the United States to reexamine our immigration practices. Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration while others consider less draconian approaches.

This is not the first time our nation has reevaluated immigration intake in response to international factors. The 1924 Immigration Act was the first bill to meaningfully limit immigration in our nation’s history. Two factors—both foreign and domestic—coalesced for Congress to pass this Act.

First, the country was experiencing unprecedented waves of immigration following WWI, doubling previous annual immigration admissions. Labor organizations worried that they would lose the important wage gains and improved labor conditions they had achieved as a result of increased competition.

Second, the Communist Revolution successfully (and violently) gained control of the Soviet Union and communism was spreading to other European countries.  The American public feared the spread of communism at home and the government needed to act to prevent a revolution on U.S. soil.

Influenced by both of these issues, Congress passed the 1924 Immigration Act, which restricted immigration from nearly 900,000 immigrants a year to closer to 300,000. This level allowed immigrants to more quickly assimilate American values, including both commitment to democracy and equitable work place wages/standards.

However the 1924 Immigration Act was not entirely positive. It set a quota system that heavily favored certain European countries and discriminated against immigrants based on national origin—completely barring admissions from Asian countries.

The combination of today’s labor issues and national security threats are similar to what our nation faced almost a century ago. The United States admits over a million legal immigrants every year, though the middle class has not seen income growth for almost two decades. Now ISIS is spreading through Europe and has threatened to infiltrate the United States.

We can look to the 1924 Immigration Act as model for both what to emulate and avoid. History reflects that reducing the numbers was positive for both jobs and diminishing the spread of radicalism at home. As we look at the purpose of our immigration system and how it affects both labor market dynamics and national security, reducing admissions makes sense. What we need to consider is how to fairly set criteria for admissions and limits. In doing so, we should be careful not to repeat the same mistakes of discriminating against individuals based solely on their country of origin or religion. 

Materialism Confronts Terror

Donald Trump has once again taken control of the headlines, this time for his proposal for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Even though it may seem like a year ago, it’s worth rewinding to the events of last week. In particular it’s worth revisiting the media feeding frenzy over the apartment of Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook. It’s important in understanding why the media and many commentators are unable to comprehend the current terrorist threat and why Trump’s policy is likely to gain in popularity. Whether it should or not, is a different question.

After the media went into the terrorists’ apartment, they immediately began rummaging through the belongings and furnishings left behind after the FBI had removed evidence.

What did they find?

Actual photo of terrorist refrigerator

Actual photo of terrorist refrigerator

Ultimately, what the media found was a typical American apartment.

For all the rummaging what the media coverage did not find was an explanation.

And that is what should scare to death anyone who supports the status quo on immigration. Because despite being “assimilated” in every material sense, down to the Nestle infant formula on the counter, Gatorade in the fridge, the pressboard cabinets and cheap furniture, this second generation immigrant and his immigrant wife assembled an arsenal of pipe-bombs and guns and killed 14 people after pledging allegiance to a foreign terrorist force aimed at establishing an Islamic Caliphate out of the ruins of Syria and Iraq.

When State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said earlier this year that “We need … to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs . . .[The U.S. should] help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people,” she was pilloried. In this case, Farook was employed by the county of San Bernardino as an environmental inspector and earned above the median wage. Other Islamic terrorists were similarly gainfully employed.

What the morbid media frenzy in that Redlands, California, apartment last week really exposed is the limits of viewing terrorism through a materialist lens. There was no “smoking gun” among the possessions left strewn behind after the last camera crew had departed. Instead, there is only a realization that the task of trying to identify who among the Muslim immigrant population is likely to radicalize and commit terror is much harder than our media and governmental elite want to admit.

We need to re-assess our immigration policy and let in a smaller number of people. The amount or type of screening that we are doing right now is not working. Farook’s wife was admitted legally on a fiancé visa after screening. It will probably require a much closer look into prospective immigrants’ religious beliefs and associations than proponents of mass immigration want. It will require doing away with un-screened foreign visitors which are allowed under the visa-waiver program.

Here is the challenge for people who oppose Trump’s position: What change to our immigration system would you put in place to prevent future terrorist attacks, knowing that each additional attack (and there will be more) will likely strengthen Trump’s support? As Dilbert creator Scott Adams has suggested, any plan beats no plan at all. If our government can’t credibly respond on what it is doing to prevent attacks, then the only person proposing to do something gets a boost.