This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.
This week, Howard Gillman, the chancellor of UC Irvine (where I teach part-time), sent out an email blast to the entire campus community condemning Donald Trump for his call to put a moratorium on all Muslims entering the US. Of course, that is in addition to the media, the entire left, and the Democratic Party not to mention most of the other Republican candidates. Thus far, Trump's comments have not hurt his poll numbers. Clearly the public is angry over the recent San Bernardino attack. The question is: Is Trump right and/or are his comments worthy of a serious discussion?
As one who has often called for a halt to Islamic immigration not only to the US but into the West in general, I have to admit that Trump's statement was bombastic and inflammatory. In addition, it is pretty clear that the courts would step in based on any religious discrimination in our immigration policies. But what if we called a moratorium on all immigration, for a variety of valid reasons?
I should add here that I am married to a legal Mexican immigrant and I generally think immigration has been good for America. However, it is clear that we are losing control over immigration, in the area of illegal immigration, visa overstays, and now Islamic terrorism. In the most recent case, Tashfeen Malik clearly fell through the cracks when she was granted a K-1 (fiancée) visa. It is clear that President Obama's claims about rigorous vetting of the incoming Syrian refugees are so much hot air.
If we cannot keep certain people out of the US based on religion, Jimmy Carter successfully did it based on nationality during the Iranian hostage crisis. In addition, all Iranians here on student visas were ordered to report to Immigration, and if they were out of status, they were deported. The courts fully supported Carter stating that this was the legitimate prerogative of the executive branch.
During that time, I was a DEA agent working in Los Angeles, and we worked several cases involving Iranian students, whose funding had been cut off and who began smuggling heroin, opium and hash into the US, sometimes concealed in portraits of the Ayatollah Khomeini. We made several arrests and seizures during that period.
If we were to declare a moratorium on all immigration into the US, I don't see how that could be challenged by the courts. Such a moratorium would not be discriminatory. It would be based on national security, an out of control system, illegal immigration, and- a need to allow assimilation to catch up with immigration itself. In fact, there have been times in our history when just such a moratorium was put into effect precisely for the latter reason. It is entirely legitimate. It can be argued that we have a similar situation now.
Of course, such a declaration would be immediately attacked as an obvious cover to stop Islamic immigration. It would have to be diplomatically explained to Muslim governments that it is a temporary measure to protect the American public until the madness stops.
Stopping entry of foreigners on tourist, study or work-related visas is a much tougher nut to crack, and I don't think Trump is going to get very far with that. Nonetheless, we do need to ensure that the Islamic population of this country does not grow beyond the 1% of the population it now comprises. If it gets to 5-15% and beyond, we are in for some real trouble. Just ask the Europeans.
Trump has, in one respect, done a public service in putting the issue front and center. On the other hand, much of the media has used it as a way to take attention away from San Bernardino. The public is paying attention, however, and awareness of the threat continues to grow. That is a good thing.