Trump’s flickering beacon of liberty in closing the Golden Door

It isn’t a Muslim ban, but the improved iteration doesn’t make much more sense. President Trump has signed an order barring all Syrian refugees from entry, limiting the number of refugees that can be received from elsewhere, and shutting down just about all immigration and visitation from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia.

The suspensions are to remain for at least 120 days as the U.S. figures out a theoretically foolproof way to ban would-be terrorists from entry.

This is bad policy. It will not protect Americans.

The United States has long been a proud safe haven for people in desperate need from around the world; since 1975, America has welcomed more than 3 million people fleeing conflict, racial and political persecution, and other pernicious forces.

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Over the generations, New York City in particular has blossomed thanks in part to the energy and decency of these men, women and children.

What few Syrian refugees the city has taken in in recent years have integrated nicely into this city of immigrants.

A provision in Trump’s order calls for the prioritization of refugee claims “made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

While Christians persecuted by ISIS surely deserve protection, so do moderate Muslims who far outnumber them. Do Shiites in Sunni-majority nations count as a minority, or are both simply considered Muslim?

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The nation-by-nation blockades, while theoretically more defensible as they are intended to be focused on radical Islamist terror havens, also fall apart upon further scrutiny. Trump smears all residents of all those nations, many of which are war-torn, as somehow complicit in their countrymen’s crimes, and necessitating “extreme vetting” that will now be developed and implemented who knows when.

Virtually no Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Libyan, Sudanese, Yemeni or Somali national has committed an act of radical Islamist terrorism on American soil. Those awful attacks, almost to a person, have been committed by homegrown terrorists, either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

At a time when Europe has been flooded with Syrians and others, some of whom have committed terrible crimes, we don’t scoff at the need to scour the backgrounds, including the social media accounts, of those requesting entry. Refugee vetting, though already exhaustive — it takes 18-24 months and involves biometric testing — can surely be stronger.

But there’s no such thing as foolproof vetting of human beings. And pulling up the drawbridge entirely on the false promise that this makes America safe, is nonsensical.

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Trump justifies choosing this handful of countries for his no-come list on the theory that, as he told ABC News’ David Muir, “it’s countries that have tremendous terror.”

Yet though the chosen nations all register high on the Global Terrorism Index — one objective measure of the prevalence of terrorism in countries around the world, by the U.K.’s Institute for Economics and Peace — the omissions are glaring.

Why leave out India and Egypt, eighth and ninth on the list, and include Libya, tenth? Why include Yemen, sixth on the list, but exclude second-place Afghanistan and fourth-place Pakistan?

The American promise will be scarred by this too-broad-brush ban. The security gains will be illusory; the damage to America’s values — and ultimately its security — will be lasting.

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