The moral outrage over President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration Friday slammed into social media like a wrecking ball over the weekend, generating copious knee-jerk reactions that effectively buried any ounce of truth beneath an avalanche of emotional hyperbole.
Seeking to justify himself following the (albeit badly implemented) new visa policy, Trump asserted that his temporary ban on refugees from seven potentially hostile Middle Eastern Nations was no different than a similar policy enacted by former President Barack Obama back in 2011, when he – and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – stopped processing applications for Iraqi refugees for six months to review the system.
Enter the “fact-checkers” over at the Washington Post who called Trump out on this claim, calling the comparison “facile” and giving Trump’s statement “three Pinocchios.”
That's nice. And here's why it's wrong.
Claim: The Washington Post claimed that Obama’s refugee ban “responded to an actual threat – the discovery that two Iraqi refugees had been implicated in bombmaking in Iraq that had targeted U.S. troops.”
Fact: It’s true that Obama’s halt on Iraqi refugees followed an incident in Bowling Green, Kentucky, when it was discovered that two Iraqi refugees who’d helped make IEDs that targeted U.S. troops had been allowed to immigrate to the United States and were living peacefully in the rural Midwest. (By this logic, banning refugees from Somalia simply because a former Somali refugee recently went on a jihad-fueled stabbing spree at a college campus makes just as much sense).
However, WaPo’s claim implies that Trump’s executive order doesn’t respond to an actual threat – which is wrong, possibly for two reasons. Firstly, as president, Trump is privy to a slew of intelligence not available to the average American. The intelligence community is regularly identifying and neutralizing threats posed by terrorist groups (a quick scan of the Justice Department’s website proves as much). To assume there was no such specific threat is to assume knowledge of the entire intelligence community, which would be bold - even for the Washington Post.
But, perhaps even more pressing, ISIS has openly and repeatedly declared its intention to infiltrate the U.S. refugee system and send terrorist cells into the United States via these channels. If this doesn’t qualify as a “threat” in the Washington Post’s dictionary, I’d like to hear their definition.
Claim: The Washington Post claimed that “Obama did not announce a ban on visa applications,” but merely that visa applications had “slowed to a trickle” under its new processing policy.
Fact: This argument splits hairs, at best. Whether or not Obama had announced a flat-out ban on visa applications by name is neither here nor there – if the process had been slowed to a near-halt, the result would have been identical. Obama's decree that the State Department stop processing visas for Iraqi refugees was an effective ban, by any other name. The end result is the same.
Trump’s visa application ban is due to the administration’s desire to review the application process itself and ensure its effectiveness. Similarly, Obama’s pause on Iraqi refugees was enacted for similar reasons: to review the process and guarantee its success at weeding out bad actors. In this vein, to say that Trump’s executive order isn’t similar to Obama’s simply because it achieves the same goals under slightly different wording is nonsensical and deceptive.
Claim: In its third and most egregious falsehood, the Washington Post takes aim at Trump’s executive order for allegedly banning all green-card holders.
“While Obama’s policy did not prevent all citizens of that country, including green-card holders, from traveling to the United States. Trump’s policy is much more sweeping, though officials have appeared to pull back from barring permanent U.S. residents,” the article claims.
Fact: Firstly, Trump’s EO never barred permanent U.S. residents from coming into the U.S. Obvious miscommunication and confusion aside, the actual executive order made no mention of legal permanent residents, at all.
Neither, for that matter, does it ban green-card holders, students with visas, or other immigrants whose visas have already been approved. In fact, Trump’s order doesn’t even ban all refugees from these seven countries, but instead explicitly allows for the State Department and Homeland Security to admit refugees belonging to religious minorities on a case-by-case basis -- which could even include some Muslims.
Don’t take my word for it: read it for yourself.
This effort by the Washington Post (and factcheck.org, apparently) to distance Trump’s latest immigration policy from Obama’s is nothing but a game of semantics - and that’s being generous. In truth, the left-leaning publication’s attempt to smear the Trump administration less than two weeks into office, while martyring themselves to protect Obama’s immaculate legacym is no less than blatantly pathetic.
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