EDITORIAL: Hasty policy creates chaos
- Keeping Americans safe is a noble goal.
- An inexperienced president creating scattershot policy is counter to that goal.
- We hope president Donald Trump can cultivate the humility and humanity needed to govern.
Many Americans agree that ensuring safety on U.S. soil should be a priority of the Trump administration. And many hold dear the values of this country as a beacon of democracy, welcoming tired and poor “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”
We are a nation of immigrants, a leader on the world stage, a melting pot.
And while today we are incredibly divided as a people, those two ideals — security and benevolence — need not be mutually exclusive.
To reconcile our need for security with our values of welcoming immigrants, it takes deft policy making. It takes diplomacy.
That’s why President Donald Trump’s hasty initiative to sign a record 14 executive orders in his first week has proven problematic.
If the chaos at airports across the country this past weekend is any indication, Trump has been unable to get his footing, and his ego is in the way of any true self-awareness. Additionally, he has clearly surrounded himself with people who are unable and/or unwilling to save him (and us) from his own disastrous inability to set policy that doesn’t send the country and the world into a tailspin.
The Associated Press reported this weekend on the growing fallout from Trump's immigration crackdown as U.S. legal permanent residents and visa-holders from seven Muslim-majority countries who had left the United States found they could not return for 90 days.
It is a period of limbo for an unknown number of non-American citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen now barred from the country where they were studying or have lived, perhaps for years. (A judge stayed the executive order Saturday for those stuck at airports in its immediate aftermath, but the restrictions remain in place for most others.)
Trump evoked 9/11 as he signed the order. However, none of the 9/11 highjackers’ home countries were on the list of banned countries. They were, instead, from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. It has been observed by many that Trump has business dealings in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Extremist radicalization occurs largely online — and a number of those who carried out recent, high-profile attacks across the U.S. were American citizens, including Dylann Roof, who was sentenced this month to the death penalty for slaying nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church in 2015.
According to Politifact, “The New America Foundation, a Washington think tank that promotes data-driven research for social and economic policy, did an analysis of ‘homegrown extremism’ since 2000. The foundation compiled data on 499 extremists, who either adhered to jihadist ideology inspired by al-Qaida or were motivated by right- or left-wing political beliefs. This database includes attacks as well as those accused of terrorism-related offenses, such as plotting attacks or fundraising.
“New America found that about 64 percent of the extremists were U.S.-born citizens and 80 percent were either American-born or naturalized citizens,” Politifact reports. “The database shows eight out of 499 extremists were illegal residents; all eight were jihadists.”
The presidency is a role of immense gravity with attendant consequences. And with the sweep of a pen, Trump has attempted to solve a complex set of problems with a simple solution, leaving American military personnel and civilians around the world in potential danger.
Extremists may now use this action against an America it already promotes to new recruits as hateful toward Muslims.
Even for those who agree with tougher immigration policies, Trump’s brand of impulsive governing should give pause. His first week has exposed his lack of policy-making experience. We still hope beyond hope he can settle in — and even rise to the challenge — before the country’s reputation around the globe is seriously damaged.
Because while the nationalist rhetoric can seem appealing to some, we don’t exist in a vacuum. Our standing on the world stage greatly affects the safety and security of our own citizens, both at home and abroad.