This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Trump Administration's Alternative Facts About Refugee Risks

The past few days have been consumed by the travel ban (no matter that the White House said today that it was not a ban--President Trump's tweets to that effect not withstanding) from seven specific Middle Eastern countries, and a temporary halting of refugee admissions. As reported by CNN, here is the wording of the directive regarding the travel ban:
"For the next 90 days, nearly all travelers, except US citizens, traveling from Iraq. Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen will be temporarily suspended from entry to the United States."
This was clearly a way of saying to people who voted for Trump when he said he was going to protect the U.S. from Islamic terrorists that he meant it. The problems of terror, however, do not actually stem directly from people from those seven countries, but rather radicalized people from other countries who go to those places to fight. Unfortunately, the executive order does not take that fact into account.
In 2014, more than 55 percent of terror attacks worldwide occurred in five countries, according to the State Department. Only one of those countries -- Iraq -- is covered in the executive order. The other four -- India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria -- are not.
Nor are other countries -- such as Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia -- thousands of whose citizens are active in jihadist groups around the world. The executive order mentions the failure to properly scrutinize visa applications of the 9/11 hijackers, but most of them were Saudis.
With respect to refugees, the Migration Policy Institute today noted that:
The executive order signed last week by President Trump that cuts the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by more than half and halts it altogether for 120 days has chosen a singularly unsuitable target for its stated purpose of “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals.” No refugee who has entered the United States through the resettlement program—and more than 3 million have done so since 1980 when the program was established—has killed anyone in a terrorist attack in the United States.
Trump has said repeatedly that more vetting of these refugees must be done. Yet, as the Migration Policy Institute point out:
Refugees already are the most heavily vetted of any people who enter the United States, facing an 18- to 24-month processing period. They go through a vetting procedure that involves up to eight U.S. government agencies, six different security databases, five separate background checks, four biometric security checks, three separate in-person interviews, and two interagency security reviews. Singling refugees out by halting the refugee resettlement program for four months and cutting resettlement at a time of record global displacement is a classic case of blaming the victim. It will do nothing to make America safer.
It may be that the Trump administration is less worried about making America safer than about disrupting the governing of the country. I really hope that I am proven wrong on that score. 

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