In the wake of Donald Trump’s abrasive Jan. 27 immigration order, some critics have described a White House in chaos and characterized Trump’s policy czar, Steve Bannon, as “in his over his head.” Wrong. Trump and Bannon know exactly what they are doing. Trump’s immigration orders portend a devastating campaign against immigrants, one that will lead to war in the Middle East.
It’s useful to remember why red voters turned to Trump; he promised to create jobs, stifle immigration, and cut taxes. So far Trump hasn’t presented any semblance of a jobs plan. House Republicans have been busy with plans to cut taxes; the beneficiaries appear to be corporations and the rich.
Meanwhile, the focus of the Trump White House has been on immigration. It’s an issue that meets three of their objectives: it’s red meat for their base; by claiming that immigrants are lawbreakers, it plays to Trump’s “law and order” theme; and this issue paves the way for major policy changes in the Middle East.
Trump’s immigration orders are based upon lies. Not surprisingly, the justifications for Trump’s immigration policIes are lies. In his Jan. 25 “Border Security” order, Trump claimed, “The recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico has placed a significant strain on Federal resources...” There is no “recent surge” ― illegal immigration declined under Obama and, recently there has been a net exodus to Mexico.
In his January 27th order, “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” Trump claimed, “While the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks ... these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.” Wrong again; the recent attacks ― such as Orlando ― were committed by native-born Americans. Trump’s order names Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen but immigrants from these nations have nothing to do with recent domestic attacks.
Even thought these lies were noted by the mainstream media, they are accepted by Trump’s base ― who get their news from Fox News. (Meanwhile, the Trump White House demonizes the mainstream media.)
Trump’s immigration orders are popular with his base. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found: “49 percent of American adults said they either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agreed with Trump’s order, while 41 percent ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ disagreed and another 10 percent said they don’t know.” The findings were strongly influenced by party preference.
The 538 website reported research about characteristics that make someone “truly American:” one third of poll respondents said it was, “Having been born in the United States” and “being a Christian.” No doubt this was Trump’s base; folks who agree with his policy of keeping non-Christians out.
(The news is not all bleak: a more recent Gallup Poll found that 57 percent of respondents disapproved of Trump’s order.)
Trump’s immigration order is a convoluted Muslim ban. The Jan. 27 ban calls for suspension of the U.S. refugee program for 120 days (and totally suspends the admission of Syrian nationals). It includes this wording: “[prioritize] refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” Since all 7 named countries are Muslim majority, this (potentially) gives preference to Christian refugees from these countries.
To be noted is that one of the 7 countries, Iraq, is a strong U.S. ally in the war on terror.
Trump’s order is a portend of things to come. The Los Angeles Times reported: “Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.” Thus the Trump ban would eventually impact ALL Muslim-majority countries ― not just Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Syria, and Yemen but also countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
Trump and his top advisers (particularly Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and Stephen Miller) believe the US is at war with Islam. (Foreign Policy magazine reported that Bannon “predicted ‘a major shooting war in the Middle East’ in the coming years. ‘To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,’ he said in January 2016.”)
Writing in the New Yorker, Steve Coll observed that last year then retired Marine General James Mattis (now Secretary of Defense) described Trump’s proposed Muslim ban as ill-advised: “An initiative so reviled and so easily caricatured across the Islamic world will inspire terrorists to action and invite various forms of retaliation against Americans. It will make shaky governments in Muslim-majority countries that coöperate with the United States—from Morocco to Indonesia—vulnerable to domestic protests and political pressure to break ties with American counterterrorism programs.”
But Trump doesn’t care. The other elements of his domestic agenda may be ill-defined but he knows where he wants to go with immigration: He wants to keep out all Muslims. And, by the way, he wants to wage war on Islam.