PRINCETON – When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I did not join those who took to the streets in protest. I thought it important to respect the democratic process, no matter how dismaying its outcome may be, and wait until the Trump administration had given us something to protest about.
It didn’t take long. Eight days after Trump took office, the first identifiable victims of his presidency were on all the major news outlets. Trump’s executive order suspending resettlement of Syrian refugees, temporarily barring new refugees regardless of where they are from, and banning all immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen caused immediate harm to people already on their way to the US. The order has also prevented many more people from leaving for the US.
In justifying his policy, Trump said that he would “never forget the lessons of 9/11.” But that is exactly what he seems to have done. The 9/11 hijackers came from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all countries unaffected by the new rules. In contrast, a study by Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, concludes that in the 40 years up to the end of 2015, no one has been killed in the US in terrorist attacks by foreigners from any of the seven countries singled out in Trump’s executive order.
Iranians, many of whom are legally resident in the US, are especially aggrieved. According to Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, the US itself has produced more Islamic State (ISIS) fighters than Iran – not surprising, given that ISIS is a Sunni organization, and regards Shia, who comprise at least 90% of Iran’s people, as apostates who can justifiably be killed.