Not a ‘Muslim ban’

By Tom Garrett Jr.

In 1947, Senator Arthur Vandenberg famously stated that “politics stop at the water’s edge.” What that meant was that partisan infighting should cease when it compromises American interests abroad and indeed when it compromises the safety and well-being of Americans at home.

Over the weeks I have heard my Democrat colleagues referring to a “Muslim ban.” Interestingly, when President Obama heightened screening of individuals from the same seven nations because of ‘the growing threat of foreign terrorist fighters’, there was no resistance. Now I hear my Democrat friends saying that a “Muslim ban” will serve as a recruiting tool for ISIS and make Americans less safe at home and abroad. I agree. Talk of a “Muslim ban” will have those consequences but I would submit there is in fact no Muslim ban. So for anyone to use partisan political tactics to perpetuate a falsehood that endangers American lives is shameful.

The facts are simple. Of the 2.3 billion Muslims on the planet, just over 10 percent live in the nations outlined by President Trump’s immigration pause. Further, nowhere in this particular order was there any reference to a “Muslim ban.” Each of these seven nations faced restrictions by the Obama Administration just two years ago and as such, served as the framework for President Trump’s order. Following those actions by President Obama, FBI Director James Comey went on record saying while we have strong measures in place, there is still no way to adequately vet people coming through these programs to properly ensure no one will slip between the cracks.

I spoke with a constituent recently who told me refugees have a right to flee a nation that threatens their family. To be clear, I am sympathetic to any individual who wants to come to this great nation in pursuit of a better life and I encourage that. However, there is absolutely no Constitutional or fundamental right to become an American citizen or immigrate to this nation it is a privilege, and a great one at that.

Another constituent spoke with my staff recently and told them that individuals on the terrorist “no fly” list are more dangerous than refugees and we should get rid of those people before pausing refugee resettlement. What we are talking about with regard to the secret “no fly” list, are legitimate American citizens who have not been convicted of a crime but the government classifies them as high risk. One of our basic Constitutional rights ensures innocence until proven guilty and we cannot strip our citizens of rights or kick them out of the country for no reason.

However, many of the terrorist attacks that have happened on our homeland such as the Pulse Night Club shooting came from individuals who were being monitored by the FBI so the potential to revisit laws on the books to further investigate high risk individuals is something we should entertain. But the “no fly” list itself is heavily flawed with U.S. Senators and children mistakenly being added to this list over the years. My point is simple, when we are having these discussions, it needs to be clearly understood that the job of the federal government is to take every possible legal measure to keep our citizens safe.

Following the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to halt this order, it is important to look at this issue from every angle as we move forward. I have been critical of the way President Trump has rolled out a few of these orders because when done so quickly, there are many issues that get lost in translation. However, he has a duty to take any measure he deems necessary to ensure the safety of this nation.

America is a nation founded by immigrants and it is the collective experiences, cultures, and traditions from people of all walks of life that make this nation so great. We should and do welcome immigration. The recent move by the President does not take away from that, it merely puts a temporary pause on the system we have. This is needed to ensure we are taking every possible measure to prevent ISIS’ own declaration of using the refugee stream as an outlet to get more operatives inside the United States.

If politics do in fact stop at the water’s edge, then Republicans and Democrats alike should be working more closely to strengthen national security and still preserve the tremendous history of immigration in the process.

Thomas Garrett Jr., is a Republican U.S. congressman representing the 5th District of Virginia, which includes Rappahannock County

 

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3 thoughts on “Not a ‘Muslim ban’

  1. Congressman Garrett,

    Come now, sir. I find your missive here a little disingenuous.

    If you really want to play this sort-of “Amelia Bedelia” game, wherein President Trump’s executive order wasn’t a “Muslim ban”, irrespective of the fact that Trump administrations surrogates admitted on live TV that it was intended to be the precursor to exactly that, and that then-Candidate Trump said exactly as such during the campaign; fine. Let’s discuss it on the merits, shall we? It was- at best- security theater and nothing more; at worst, it was blatantly unconstitutional.

    If you want to really discuss the security of the United States of America, let’s discuss the systematic dismantling of the Western Intelligence Alliance by the Trump administration. Destroying the carefully-constructed ties between our intelligence agencies and MI6, DGSE, FIS, and Mossad that has done probably the hardest working keeping our country safe from jihadists seems like a topic you’d be keen to opine on, instead of this completely ineffectual executive order.

    Or, perhaps we could discuss how President Trump has ceded the Pacific Rim to the People’s Republic of China, and even gone so far as to back down from his bluster of “standing up to them” by admitting he was reckless to challenge the One China policy. “Winning”, indeed. This is especially concerning in the wake of the inroads ISIS has made in the Phillipines, now. Tell me, Congressman, how concerned do you think the Chinese Ministry of State Security is about that?

    I heard you mention, during your “Facebook Live Town Hall”, you might stand up to President Trump… eventually… possibly… somehow.

    Look, let me tell you, something, Congressman- the folks in the 5th District don’t give a good gall-dang about President Trump, or would’ve for President Clinton. They want you to stand up for them- all of ’em. And delineating folks into categories you can take less seriously isn’t a good way to start your career in Congress.

    If I recall correctly, you were fond of pointing out that Secretary Clinton similarly delineated and demeaned American citizens last fall with her “deplorables” comment. So maybe- just maybe- you ought to take your own advice.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Tom Garrett is divisive, arrogant and argumentative – unnecessarily so. To identify his “Democratic friends” is to immediately place a label on a civil conversation with a human being. Last I checked, our representatives may have a party affiliation but they represent all citizens in their districts. The facts are simple: President Obama, while taking great pains to have an inclusive Administration that represented all citizens, consulted with the US Dept of Homeland Security, the US Attorney General, the FAA, CIA and FBI, among other agencies, to determine the best course of keeping America safe while allowing free access into and out of this country. By the current White House admission, they did not consult with any of those agencies. The countries mentioned in the EO were not representative of any threat – real or imagined. Otherwise, the Terror Alert would be elevated and other security efforts would be activated. The Sept 11th attackers were from countries other than those listed in this EO. Mr. Garrett references Pulse Nightclub in Orlando which was, in essence, a Domestic Terrorism issue. By the current Administration advisors’ admissions on national television that this Administration wanted a Muslim Ban, the facts are evident. I suggest instead of double-speak, Mr. Garrett study the Constitution and also engage in dialogue with his constituents who are deeply troubled and concerned about the obvious effort of the GOP to put party ahead of National Security and our Constitution. Many of us with more experience in matters of State than Mr. Garrett call Virginia home. We are hardworking citizens who are distinguished scholars, government workers and farmers. Please talk with us, not to us. And let’s start by telling the truth.

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