As someone who has written against Trump's order to ban Muslim immigrants and refugees from a select group of countries, I've been asked directly what makes his ban different from Obama's ban when he stopped processing Iraqi refugees in 2011.
(I should clarify that I didn't so much as write against the ban, but rather pointed out that the Bible commands us to love our neighbor, which seemed to rankle some Christians in favor of it).
While USA Today outlines the differences between the two policies, including the fact that Obama's was directed at one specific country over a specific threat, I still think the broader question stands:
Why is it okay for Obama, in the face of a perceived threat, to decide he needs to slow down an immigration program, but not okay for Trump to do the same thing? The same question might apply to illegal immigration, where Obama had some illegal immigrants deported.
These are fair questions, and I'm going to give you the best answer I can. All I ask is if you're a Trump supporter, you give strong consideration to what I'm about to say.
Here's my answer: intent matters, and the things you do and say and the tone you set matter when it comes to discerning intent.
Donald Trump the candidate gave every indication on the campaign trail that he's an individual who would use fear and bigotry to rile up the base.
Of Mexican immigrants, he said that Mexico isn't sending it's best, but, "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
On Muslims, Trump the candidate said, "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
When the Muslim parents of a U.S. soldier killed fighting for America gave a speech against Trump at the Democratic convention, Trump wondered allowed if the soldier's mother didn't speak because, "She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."
Many of Trump's defenders have noted that Trump's Muslim ban isn't a Muslim ban, but is simply a ban on immigration from countries deemed dangerous. Other immigrants from other Muslim countries are allowed in.
Again, intent matters. Even Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani admits that a Muslim ban is exactly what Trump was originally going after. According to an interview Giuliani gave with Fox News, "When he first announced it, he said 'Muslim ban.'" Giuliani went on to say Trump asked him how to do it legally.
So, there you have it. That's the difference. For many of us, we don't demand a completely open border with Mexico, nor do we demand that everyone who applies to come into this country be granted access. We just want our immigration policy to be conducted without fear-mongering and with a sense of humanity. This isn't some sort of left-wing notion, as evidenced by the below video from 1980 during a Republican debate between Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
Ask yourself: are Trump's recent actions the actions of someone who soberly, looking at the evidence, decided these were the things needed to keep our country safe? Or, are these the actions of someone who decided a long time ago that he was going to go after Mexicans and Muslims when he got into office?
We have the past statements of Trump the candidate to give us an indication of what Trump the president is thinking. For many people, the answer is painfully clear.
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