Saturday, August 20, 2016

‘Extreme Vetting’ Is Extremely Overdue

Donald Trump’s speech last week on the threat of radical Islam included a section about immigration policy that has the usual suspects in a tizzy. This section focused not on terrorism, but rather on what Andy McCarthy calls the “grand jihad,” the importation of Islamist ideology that rejects our constitutional order and open society. 

In his trademark manner, Trump departed from the prepared text to Archie Bunker-ize the speech by calling this “extreme vetting,” which is not the phraseology you should use once you’ve won the nomination and are trying to persuade the middle-of-the-road voter in Ohio and Florida. But rather than calling for body-cavity searches, as this label might suggest, he was instead calling for ideological/values screening, with the commonsense goal that “we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.” He explained: 

In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles — or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.

It takes an Ivy League education to object to using our borders to keep out Jew-haters, gay-killers, and apostate-stoners. And, sure enough, in the Washington Post, Politico, and elsewhere, a passel of experts tells us that this is crazy, illegal, unconstitutional, and various other adjectives. 

Questions about the practical implementation of such a proposal are legitimate, if overblown. Trump obviously didn’t go into detail about the specific bureaucratic means of trying to screen out enemies of our constitutional order, but there are a number of ways to go about it. The first thing to keep in mind is that Trump’s speech referred to immigrants, not visitors, who are much more numerous. As I wrote in December, if a tourist from Saudi Arabia or business traveler from Pakistan think it’s good to behead blasphemers, that doesn’t really matter to us because they’re just passing through and not joining our society. But people being granted permanent residence — or even long-term “temporary” status, such as foreign students or H-1B workers — are joining our society, and we have a responsibility to keep them out if they reject our ...

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