WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2017 – Stating “we can’t let this continue,” Donald Trump outlined his Immigration policy yesterday in Ohio. But there is little new about the Trump immigration proposal. As the candidate noted, he is calling for a strategy similar to the one the U.S. instituted during the Cold War, which included an ideological test for immigrants.
Opponents of the Republican nominee fall back on cries of Islamophobia while ignoring the actions of presidents, Democratic and Republican, that came before.
President Jimmy Carter banned immigration from Iran during the Iran hostage crisis. His executive orders banning all immigration from Iran, except for provable opposition to the Shiite Islamist regime or a verifiable medical emergency, were aimed at putting pressure on the regime.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan made, in part, the following statement regarding immigration:
Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands. No free and prosperous nation can by itself accommodate all those who seek a better life or flee persecution. We must share this responsibility with other countries.
The bipartisan select commission which reported this spring concluded that the Cuban influx to Florida made the United States sharply aware of the need for more effective immigration policies and the need for legislation to support those policies.
For these reasons, I asked the Attorney General last March to chair a Task Force on Immigration and Refugee Policy. We discussed the matter when President Lopez Portillo visited me last month, and we have carefully considered the views of our Mexican friends. In addition, the Attorney General has consulted with those concerned in Congress and in affected States and localities and with interested members of the public.
The Attorney General is undertaking administrative actions and submitting to Congress, on behalf of the administration, a legislative package, based on eight principles. These principles are designed to preserve our tradition of accepting foreigners to our shores, but to accept them in a controlled and orderly fashion:
- We shall continue America’s tradition as a land that welcomes peoples from other countries. We shall also, with other countries, continue to share in the responsibility of welcoming and resettling those who flee oppression.
- At the same time, we must ensure adequate legal authority to establish control over immigration: to enable us, when sudden influxes of foreigners occur, to decide to whom we grant the status of refugee or asylee; to improve our border control; to expedite (consistent with fair procedures and our Constitution) return of those coming here illegally; to strengthen enforcement of our fair labor standards and laws; and to penalize those who would knowingly encourage violation of our laws. The steps we take to further these objectives, however, must also be consistent with our values of individual privacy and freedom.
In his speech on Immigration, Trump has borrowed a page from the Obama administration, which also called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants.
The United States Oath of Allegiance that all new citizens are required to repeat should be applied to those entering the United States for the duration of the time they reside in the country:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
The principles of the oath are further detailed in Section 337(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), that clearly states that all applicants to enter the U.S. must:
- Support the Constitution of the United States, above all other documents;
- Renounce and abjure absolutely and entirely all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which the applicant was before a subject or citizen;
- Support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
- Bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and
- Bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law (note: this has been since amended); or
- Perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;
- Perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.
The Naturalization Act of 1795 initially expanded those requirement further, stating that any individual planning to become a U.S. citizen must file a declaration of intention before filing a petition for naturalization in which that applicant
shall…declare, on oath…that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and that he absolutely and entirely renounces and abjures all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty; and, particularly, by name, to the prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of which he was before a citizen or subject; which proceedings shall be recorded by the clerk of the court.
Following the Paris 11/13/2015 attacks which killed 130 and injured 89, the Obama administration announced higher security screening measures for travelers using ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) because of the risk that a terrorist may use the Visa Waiver Program to gain entry into the United States.
Fears, for example, are that a terrorist residing in a VWP participating country may travel to Syria, obtain training with ISIS, return to his or her home country and then easily travel to the United States under the VWP to carry out an act of terror.
As a result of this possibility, the United States government is “enacting short and long-term measures to ensure this scenario does not occur.” Some of the short-term measures include:
- Tracking and screening recent travel for VWP applicants (such as to/from Syria, Somalia, Mali, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Columbia and Venezuela).
- A close review of the 38 VWP country’s compliance with the program’s constraints.
- Greater use of fingerprints and photographs during the screening and security travel process. Several long-term adjustments are in discussion, but no major changes to the VWP have been announced at this time. Some of these long-term adjustment proposal ideas are:
- Reducing the number of VWP countries due to non-compliance of the program’s constraints.
- Providing incentives for VWP countries to share more security and background information about thier travelers.
- Collection of more fingerprint information from travelers.
- Requiring all VPW country travelers to possess an electronic passport with a security chip.
- Mandatory interviews at U.S. consulates for VWP travelers that have visited Syria or Iraq during the previous five years.
- Increasing airline fines if passport data is not verified prior to boarding pass issuance.
Trump’s immigration proposal builds on these existing policies and aims to boost security for the United States. The motivation is neither racism nor xenophobia, but a simple concern for the safety of America.