Donald Trump has taken an aggressive stance on improving the security of the United States. This includes the first steps to tighten the physical border with Mexico. It also includes looking at ways to secure international customs checkpoints at airports.
These hard-line policies are making a difference. The average travelers may not be a threat but these measures are not meant to catch the average travelers. The travel ban is a necessary short-term inconvenience to deter terrorist threats.
Travel bans have become a topic of great debate. Mainstream media has an issue with innocent people being denied access for the greater good. It is true that not every person attempting to enter from one of the listed countries is a threat. The problem is it often takes time to figure out which are the threats. We can not blindly allow another terrorist to enter disguised as a refugee.
A travel ban may keep some innocent people out of the United States on a temporary basis. The ban will also make it harder for the not-so-innocent to enter. The Department of Homeland Security recently stated that 300 current refugees within the United States are being investigated for possible ties to terrorism. These are active FBI investigations. This fact should be enough to support temporary efforts to slow down the influx of refugees in order to investigate.
Each time a new security measure is put in place, it takes time to understand the reasoning behind it. We have seen many changes to security in response to new threats. Examples include the starts of all travelers removing shoes in TSA after the “Shoe Bomber” or the many increased security measures after 9/11. It is not about equating every person with terrorism but instead, diverting the one or two genuine threats. It is easy to understand that no TSA agent is expecting to find a bomb in every shoe, but this change may stop someone from trying to use a shoe bomb again.
Major terrorist events change how we approach security when we learn more about possible threats. Even if millions of people had to remove their shoes through TSA to help to avoid one shoe bomb, it is worth the lives saved. Delaying travel for some countries to avoid a new threat is worth it as well.
The most recent travel ban targets those who may be aiding terrorism in any form. This would include those who fund, plan, train others and, are connected to actual acts of terrorism. The true impact of the travel ban may not be obvious because we may never know for sure how many attacks these bans help to derail. The countries covered by the ban were actually detrmined under former President Obama’s administration
We do know there have been planned attacks by people coming in from the banned countries. The bombing of the Christmas tree in Portland, OR by Mohamed Mohamud is an example of one such attack.
Linking the travel ban to efforts of people like Mohamud has upset the mainstream media. The threat of Mohamud’s actions have been downplayed. While the media may dismiss how serious this type of threat was, Mohamud is serving 30 years for the crime. It was enough of a threat to warrant a harsh sentence. Had the attack not failed, the damages could have included significant loss of human life. The target was the largest symbol of the holiday season at the busiest time of year in Portland, the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree in Pioneer Square.
The current ban was put in place as one of many tools to make the United States safer. The bans can stop those who may be planning attacks from outside of the country from completing their plans.
One of the biggest arguments against the short term ban has come from those who say, “there is just as much of a threat from home-grown terrorists as are there are foreign.” This argument essentially says that the ban can not end all terrorist efforts so it should not be used to end any of them. This is a ridiculous notion.
According to a part of the executive order the started the formal travel ban:
“Recent history shows that some of those who have entered the United States through our immigration system have proved to be threats to our national security. Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States. They have included not just persons who came here legally on visas but also individuals who first entered the country as refugees. For example, in January 2013, two Iraqi nationals admitted to the United States as refugees in 2009 were sentenced to 40 years and to life in prison, respectively, for multiple terrorism-related offenses. And in October 2014, a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction as part of a plot to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The Attorney General has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counter-terrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
As with any on-going investigation, it is likely that some of those 300 refugees will be cleared. The issues here is the need for a further investigation. That is made easier by closing off the pipeline of incoming refugees. The FBI will be able to conclude investigations without dealing with more refugees coming in. Clearing a part of those 300 will help, just as uncovering even one full-fledged terrorist plan could save lives. It seems that saving lives would be worth delaying travel for some visitors temporarily.
The ban does not label every traveler as a threat. Mainstream media would like to make it appear that way. Heart-wrenching stories about the ban continue to make for great fluff pieces on the evening news.