Sunday, January 29, 2017

Paranoia Will Destroy Us

I'm not exactly sure when President Trump signed the travel ban.  It seems like it might have been Friday evening but I didn't really hear about it until sometime Saturday.  I saw snippets that something was going on as I updated basketball stuff on Twitter but I couldn't really followup until I got home last night.  Then I found out that Trump signed an executive order to stop immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.  He said that this would be in effect for 90 days while they looked at the immigration policy.  He also said that it was being done in order to protect the United States from terrorism.  It appears that this ban would also affect green card holders, people who have already filed for and received visas and will stop people from getting visas in the near future.

Almost immediately there were people protesting this and it didn't take long for some Federal judges issuing a temporary stay for at least the people with permanent residence status.  I'm not sure if that also impacts people who have already been approved for visas.  So basically people that were either returning home or traveling to what they hoped would be their new home were stopped at the airport and either detained or told to go back to their respective countries.  To me that seems cruel and misguided.  I also think that it will do little to improve the security of this country as it plays right into the hand of our enemies.

Since it doesn't include Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, it doesn't address all of the countries where recent terrorist attacks have originated.  Not that I think it should but it does seem to address only a partial list.

When asked about it, Trump stated the need for further vetting.  Given that the above listed countries were already on various watch lists, they are already pretty vetted when applying for visas.  I just read an article about Iraqis that worked as interpreters and guides for the US military had to wait at least two years before getting their visa.  In order to apply for said visa, they needed to jump through all sorts of hoops.  One of those hoops includes a vetting from the various US intelligence agencies working separately.  If there wasn't unanimous approval, that person would be denied a visa.  They also had to have testimony from at least two members of the unit they served with.

As for the refugees, that is an even harder visa to obtain.  If you end up going to one of the refugee camps, there is no guarantee that you will even make it to the United States.  Prior to being granted refugee status, you are vetted by whatever agency that runs the camp you are in.  If you decide that you want to leave, they pick the country you will be headed to.  If that country happens to be the United States, I believe you go through the process above.  So it seems to me that if you were a terrorist, this would be the last method you would want to use.

As for safety, if you look at the terrorist numbers since 9/11, you have a better chance of getting killed on your way to work.  Also, you have just as much control of that situation.  Yet, I don't hear about any extreme measures for that situation.
Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of all of this.  I get that terrorism is a serious threat but I also get that if someone is determined enough, they will figure out a way.  From what I heard, this is the beginning and if we start banning other countries, what will alienating potential allies help?  And for that matter, where does it stop?  Do we start banning people from other countries because they've let refugees in?

So you ask about the fallout shelter sign?  Well, I grew up in the 70's and 80's under the specter of a nuclear war.  As I began to understand the dynamics, it started to scare me less.  If an SS-20 isn't going to scare me, why should I be scared of some boogie man with a knife or a gun?

Now as for the other big executive order.  I think the border wall is even more wrongheaded.  First of all, there is the matter of how it is going to be funded.  I don't know how many ways the Mexican government can say they aren't going to pay for it, but I'm pretty sure that they are not going to pay for it.  Imposing a tariff on goods from Mexico would still mean that we would pay for it through the increase in prices on those products.  Not to mention, if Trump makes good on one of his other promises, that may dry up.  Also, it does nothing to address the other sources of illegal immigration.

I'm not sure what a 2000 mile wall would cost, but I imagine it would not be cheap.  I think I've heard the 5 billion dollar number thrown around.  I'm pretty sure that is only the cost to build the wall and probably doesn't include the recurring cost of manning and maintaining said wall.  That probably wouldn't come cheap either.  So basically, we'd be committing ourselves to a huge investment.

Now as for the effectiveness.  Roughly 200,000 people were able to leave East Germany.  40,000 of those escapes were direct escapes over the wall.  The other 160,000 were through other means.  Unless we were willing to do what the East Germans would do, I don't think our wall would be more effective.  Also, there are other means besides the land that people can enter this country if they wanted to or are we going to put a wall around every shore as well?

Anyway, give our other priorities, I would like to know where they are going to find the resources for this wall

I don't think we are going to win the war on terrorism by giving up our basic values as a country.  The Constitution doesn't say anything about citizens, it only says people.  I would assume that means it's protections extend to anyone that is here.  There are many ways that we don't live up to those ideals, but I would hate to see one more added to the list.

1 comment:

Bob in Coweta said...

Well said !!

I believe the price tag for 'the wall' is a far larger number. Mitch McConnell is quoted saying $12-$15 Billion. Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute estimates it at $15-$25 Billion.

Regardless, as you noted, the real cost has to include Maintenance and Operation, but far more important is the cost that no one wants to talk about - the impacts on our moral fiber.

Trump is a raving madman - spoken by this moderate conservative.