By Mark Burkhalter –
Prudence. It’s a word we don’t heard too much of lately especially in the hustle and bustle of international travel across the globe where immediate results are expected and patience is lost.
President Donald Trump is showing remarkable prudence in his executive order signed earlier this week in requiring a temporary pause in the immigration of persons to the United States from seven Middle Eastern countries.
If it means some refugees may not clear customs in the United States for a short period of time until a more permanent, significant vetting policy is in place, then Trump is showing the rest of the world what matters most: protecting American citizens.
Trump signed a 90-day, temporary ban on persons entering the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. To enter the United States from those nations will now require further vetting which is exactly what is needed to keep the homeland safe. Those stopped at JFK Airport in New York and elsewhere were vetted and eventually released, showing the system worked.
But each of these countries addressed in Trump’s executive order are infiltrated by radical Islamic extremism – either by jihadist-leaning governments or violent jihadist terrorists.
Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen have been breeding grounds for terrorists who have spread carnage throughout Europe and the Middle East in the past two years – killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children.
* A 27-year-old Syrian blew himself up in the Bavarian town of Ansbach last summer, killing 15 people outside a concert. ISIS identified the perpetrator as a “soldier of Islam.”
* Also last summer, two followers of the Islamic State murdered a Catholic priest while he was saying mass in Normandy. They slit the 85-year-old priest’s throat in front of congregants. French prosecutors said one of the attackers had served prison time for attempting to fight in Syria.
* In November 2015 terrorists attacked Paris at the city’s Bataclan nightclub and bombed several locations in the suburbs of St. Denis, resulting in the deaths of 130 people. ISIS claimed responsibility saying it was retaliation for air strikes in Syria and Iraq. Several of the assailants traveled to or hailed from Syria including traveling with refugees, according to the BBC.
* In March 2016, three coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Brussels – two at the international airport and one at a major train station. Thirty-two people were killed and 300 injured. Police believe the suspects were involved in the same terrorist cell that planned the 2015 Paris attacks. Several had traveled to Syria or fought for ISIS in that region.
Our 45th President, like many Europeans and Americans, is horrified by the needless carnage that is becoming routine in too many parts of the globe thanks to the free travel of undetected terrorists. Even the Sept. 11 hijackers were here on expired visas.
In addition, US Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky made a good point this week when he said we should assess just how bad this problem is before we start criticizing the President’s actions. After all, 40 percent of visitors to the U.S. on a visa overstay their visa and the government cannot find them.
Thankfully Trump wants to protect our homeland and prevent terrorists and bad actors access to the United States – something they try to do daily. Contrary to media reports, this pause is not a ban on Muslims nor anyone else based on their religion but a backstop against dangerous nations.
President Obama also halted the flood of refugees from a dangerous part of the world – Iraq –in 2011 when he implemented a six month ban on refugees after a failed plot to attack Fort Knox. The only difference is that Obama did not announce his ban to the public.
I travel across the globe on a weekly basis. In the United States but especially in Europe, anxiety is extremely high as passengers cringe at the next potential attack because they know too little is being done to keep ISIS terrorists from traveling freely. It’s nice to know we have a new President with the courage to review our immigration policy and who will take strong action to keep Americans safe while still making our nation the greatest place on earth to travel and do business.
Burkhalter is the former Speaker and Speaker Pro Tem of the Georgia House. He is an Atlanta-based senior advisor with Dentons, the world’s largest global law firm.