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Protests vital, when informed
February 3, 2017

Protests vital, when informed

Protests vital, when informed

Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim countries. Photo courtesy by Zach Gibson/ Getty Images/USA Today

Thousands of concerned Americans rushed at least 49 airports across the United States in protest over the weekend.  The catalyst was an executive order by President Trump and the detaining of Middle Eastern immigrants by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Before you make your homemade sign, memorize the words to “Imagine” by John Lennon, and rush San Antonio International Airport, let’s review all the facts.  

On 27 January, President Trump issued an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”  In 2,858 words, he mentions flaws with the State Department’s policies of properly scrutinizing visa applications, which contributed to the attacks on 9/11.  Furthermore, he outlines and orders certain actions to take place.  Actions which have led many, who haven’t read the Executive Order, to consider it a ban on Muslims.  The reality is there is no #Muslimban.

Questions do remain, even after careful reading of the order.  Was this morally wrong? Was this an Illegal action? Was this Un-American? The simple answer is No, No, and No.  This was a substandard roll-out of a poorly articulated order that was, at best, ambiguous.  It was implemented far too snappishly, and without prior notification to those departments tasked with enforcement.  What happened at the airports was a direct result of this.  

Before we allow our emotions to get the better of us, it’s important to look at the historical perspective of such an action.  This is not uncommon in U.S. history; select groups of individuals have been barred entrance dating back to 1881.  For historical perspective:

President Arthur banned everyone from China.

President Franklin Roosevelt banned Jews.

President Teddy Roosevelt banned all self-proclaimed atheists.

President Truman banned Communists.

President Carter banned Iranians.

President Reagan banned HIV positive individuals from entering the U.S.  

Quite literally, the United States has a history of banning individuals on the premise of -in order- nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and medical condition.  Why? To secure the safety of the citizens of the United States from threats abroad.

If this recent example were truly a slight at the spirit of American values, then where was Sen. Chuck Schumer’s moral outrage in 2011, when refugees from Iraq were significantly reduced for 180 days?  Where was the mainstream media’s outright disdain of Presidents Arthur, FDR, Teddy, Truman, Carter, and Reagan?  Where was Hollywood as people were being rejected on the basis of belief and ethnicity?

As media outlets, including MSNBC and FOX, continue to debate the semantics of how to refer to last week’s executive order, their advocacy journalism has generated much contention – and confusion – without doing much outside of spreading partisan rhetoric.

So what does it actually say?  Despite what many have heard about the Executive Order, nothing in it mentions permanent lawful residents, students, temporary workers, or persons who have already been vetted by the State Department. In fact, it specifically permits many specific categories of people to enter the country from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia.  Individuals who qualify are those holding “diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas”.  

The executive order has essentially created a temporary injunction on travel for a period of 90 days for these seven specific nations, and for specific reasons.  Countries which were designated by the Obama administration as posing “significant threats” to the United States. The nations included are current territories of the de facto Caliphate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and where known terrorist training centers exist.  

Were this truly a Muslim Ban, as reported, then the list would have included the more than 40 other Muslim majority countries spanning the globe.  It does not.  In fact, nearly 90% of the world Muslim population remains unaffected by the order despite the opportunistic outrage.  

Protests, like those we have seen, are an important opportunity for the American public. They are vital to our Democracy.  Yet, when executed with haste and ignorance, they become trivial, and worse – harmful to that very Democracy. Opinions that are most valuable are those predicated on an understanding of the situation and not on misguided outrage.  Ignore the ill-conceived celebrity Tweet, trending Facebook meme, or click-bait headlines from the Huffington Post or Breitbart.  United we stand, and divided we fall.  

So, now the dialogue is open.  Let us hear from you on what you agreed and disagreed with in the comments below.

-Note on the Author-

James is the son of a Moroccan-born immigrant to the United States, who after 29 years legally obtained her citizenship in 2009.

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  • Nicole Adkins

    Excellent article! Thanks for sharing your insight and helping to inform the general public.

  • Debbie Martinez

    Thank you so much for your informative article. It brings a new hope for peace, clarity, and support for neutral views. It allows people to make an informed choice as to how we feel about Trump’s actions without so much emotional drama. FACTS are what we need. I’m so frustrated with our communications outlets. I hope you can stay strong Mr. Miller to your profession for reporting facts. Unfortunately jobs in media are only for the main stream view opinion; professional journalism is becoming a thing of the past. Good luck to you.

  • Benjamin Graf

    Awesome article. This guy truly does his research and keeps his article about the facts. Love hearing from him and can’t wait to see more articles in the future.

  • Ryan Mitnick

    I understand the point of closing borders to certain countries in order to maintain national security. Additionally, Obama signed a similar executive action doing the same thing. Where I differ from this is that we are nation built on immigrants. Also, every refugee that the United States accepts is one less potential civilian causality and future terrorist. Taking the women we are reducing their ability to procreate and grow their population. Lastly, the number of attacks that we have here in the homeland of the United States from refugees compared to our home grown terrorist are significantly less. Over all great article, it is refreshing to see news simply being reported instead of be opionated.

    • Tim Hernandez

      Ryan, this is actually an opinion piece so it is not a standard news article reporting on an event and is opinionated.

      • Debbie Martinez

        Opinions based on facts.

  • Daniel

    Today society is mis informed and directed from the truth so many times. With all the social media present and hate towards the president no one actually ever looks to see why things are happening they just take someone else’s word for it. With this article it perfectly shows well researched and well thought out process on why things are happening.

  • Tim Hernandez

    This article saddens me. I read a recent opinion piece that reminded me why I gave service to my country and I’ll share that here. It reminds me of what my nation can be when we recall who we are called to be.
    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/sunday/what-were-fighting-for.html

    • James Miller

      As the author of this editorial, I wanted to reply to some of the issues you raised in your commentary. I will not be responding further to comments on here, however I do invite you to respond formally by letter to the Mesquite and we will be happy to publish your response in the opinion section in an upcoming publishing cycle.

      “The second paragraph sounds like the writer is implying that the protesters are uninformed pot smoking hippies.”

      The paragraph addresses, what this author believes to be, a lack of information by many who rushed to protest without an understanding of the executive order. Examples are aplenty of protestors who were uncertain what the executive order said, and moreover were confused with the historical precedent of such actions.

      “It should be noted that not all the historical perspective is accurate
      or applies to this piece as several of them were put in place for
      reasons other than national security and that information can be
      uncovered by doing some historical research.”

      Had you fully grasped what the article was addressing, you would understand that the purpose of mentioning the examples was not, as you stated, intended to speak directly to the nation security issues in light of the current situation. The examples provided are presented to inform the readers that there are previous examples of people being denied entry to the United States, and that such action is not uncommon historically for the United States.

      “I also noted that the article ends by mentioning the fact that the authors mother is of Moroccan birth. This seems like an attempt to validate the piece by disclosing a personal fact in order to override the writers Anglo last name. The piece should be able to make the authors argument and this last bit of information seems to cheapen any impact it might have had otherwise.”

      The inclusion of the information pertaining to my heritage was intended to provide the reader with the backstory of the author, as well as to present the fact that all the opinions expressed (Protesting, Effective Discourse, Informative Outrage vs Emotional Response) are being presented by someone who has a personal understanding of the opposing view, and yet still views the protests as nothing more than opportunistic outrage against an unpopular President.

      “I also wonder why the opinion editor is writing an opinion article for the paper.
      Should not this have been an editorial piece that was vetted by the editor in chief?”

      This article was vetted by the editor-in-chief, the faculty advisor, and two fellow editors. FYI it’s not uncommon for editors to write articles for the paper they work for.

      While I appreciate your link to articles which echo chamber your own personal belief on what the United States is/should be, it is important to remember that opinions are the conclusions or beliefs of the writer. They present an argument and open dialogue. They are not fully substantiated outside of the authors understanding, culture, beliefs, morality, ethics, and interpretation of facts attained in research. Discourse is vital to our democracy, and it is through the listening to other points of view that we gain a better understanding of opposing positions.

      Thank you for your comments, and again we invite you to formally respond to the article in a letter for publication.

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