Donald Trump and the Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees

President Donald Trump has banned Syrian refugees from coming to the USA.

But there wouldn’t be any refugees from Syria if the U.S. government hadn’t intentionally destabilized their country.

It is shameful to treat the refugees as if they themselves were to blame for being persecuted and homeless.

Ten years ago, Syria was a country where Middle East refugees fled to, not away from.  What changed it was the rebellion, instigated by the U.S. government and spearheaded by the Islamic State (aka ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front, the heirs to Al Qaeda, to overthrow Bashir al-Assad.

People who once led normal lives have been made homeless and exiles by warlords and armed religious fanatics.


The saving grace of President Trump’s order is to make exceptions for religious minorities and Syrians in danger because they worked for Americans.

Christians comprise 10 percent of the population of Syria.  The Christian community there goes back to the time of St. Paul.   Although Christians are targeted by ISIS and other jihadists, they comprise fewer than 10 percent of refugees—possibly because they’re in danger from Muslim fanatics in the refugee camps.   It would be shameful for a nation that is more than 70 percent Christian to turn its back on them.

There are 4 million Syrian refugees, mostly in neighboring countries.  The United States has admitted only a handful.   Germany’s experience shows that mass migration of refugees is not feasible.   But a blanket ban adds insult to injury.

The only long-range answer to the refugee crisis is to negotiate a peace settlement and allow a majority of the refugees to go home.

Some 15 or so years ago, I was a volunteer driver for Catholic Family Services refugee resettlement project here in Rochester, NY.  Most of the refugees I chauffeured were Muslims from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan.

They had all been through a lot, they were doing their best to adapt to a new and unfamiliar way of life, and they were all grateful for any kindness.  I can’t see refugees as a threat.

Donald Trump’s executive order is not a “Muslim immigration ban.”

It does not ban immigration from Muslims, which would be un-Constitutional as well as not feasible.  You can’t tell somebody’s religion by looking at time, or by their last name, or by what country they’re from.

All he did was ban immigration from selected majority-Muslim countries.

The seven majority-Muslim countries that are subject to President Donald Trump’s three-month immigration ban are not the countries that are the greatest terrorist threats.

They are the countries that the U.S. government over the years has marked for destabilization and regime change—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

A majority of the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia and several others came from Egypt.  Yet no restrictions have been placed on travelers from these countries.  They are U.S. allies and, as it happens, hosts to Trump business interests.

The President has made an empty gesture to satisfy his political followers.  In so doing, he has created a lot of problems for a lot of harmless people, without doing much to make Americans safer.

Trump immigration ban vs. his business interests

Trump immigration ban vs. his business interests

The other noteworthy thing about Trump’s action was the sudden, arbitrary and half-cocked way that he went about it.  He struck fear into the hearts of many legal immigrants, especially green-card holders who happened to be out of the country and at first were barred from coming back.   Maybe he wants to be feared.


What Trump’s Executive Order Does and Doesn’t Do by Krishnadev Calamur for The Atlantic.

The U.S. Was Hardly Wide Open to Muslims Before Trump by Leonid Bershinsky for Bloomberg View.

True Things About the Trump Immigration Ban by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Is President Trump’s Immigration Order a “Muslim Ban”? by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.

Donald Trump’s Refugee Order: No Muslim Ban – Separating Fact From Hysteria by David French for National Review.

As Protests Escalate, Trump Retreats From Barring Green Card Holders by Robert Mackay for The Intercept.

These are the new instructions the State Department rushed to embassies worldwide by Alex Leff for the Global Post.

No terrorist attacks post 9/11 by people from countries in Trump’s travel ban? by Miriam Veranda for PolitiFact.   No Americans have been killed by people from the seven designated countries, but there have been two non-deadly attacks by ethnic Somalis and one by an ethnic Iranian.

Trump’s Immigration Ban Excludes Countries With Business Ties by Caleb Malby, Blacki Migliozzi and Michael Keller for Bloomberg News.

Syrian refugees in the United States, explained in graphs, by Paul Blake for BBC News.

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