Two Tweets Expose the Problem With Donald Trump's Immigration Plan

August 15th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

On Monday, Donald Trump unveiled his revised plan to prevent violent extremism in America — emphasizing the importance of "extreme vetting" for immigrants entering the country. But one test seems more "extreme" than the rest.

"Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued immigrant visas," Trump said during his foreign policy speech.

Two tweets expose the problem with this proposal.

The proposal raises practical and ethical concerns: How does one demonstrate an ability to "flourish" in America? And what techniques could U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employ to verify this? Of greater concern is the possibility that such an immigration test could invite racial and religious bias in the screening process.

Because the requirement is so subjective, it seems impossible to standardize and apply on a consistent, unprejudiced basis. To journalist Ana Marie Cox's point, ordering officials to determine whether a given applicant is capable of flourishing in America is a broad requirement; and without any objective standard to base that evaluation on, race and ethnicity could hypothetically influence an applicant's immigration status.

Trump detailed a number of other "extreme vetting" requirements he'd impose as president.

Those requirements include a mandatory belief in the U.S. Constitution and a disavowal of bigotry and hatred. At the center of the plan, however is a temporary ban on "immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism," Trump said.

Since March 2011, an estimated 11 million Syrian refugees have fled the civil war-torn country, and last week the United Nations reported that two million people living in Aleppo, Syria are without running water. Yet Syrians fleeing from these unimaginable conditions could be barred under Trump's vague "extreme vetting," as they're coming from a "dangerous and volatile" region.

(It's also important to note that the U.S. is committed to resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees and already has a strict vetting process for refugees coming from countries like Syria, as ATTN: highlighted in the following video.)

But as The Atlantic notes, "[i]deological tests for admission to the country are not new."

"As far back as the Alien and Sedition Acts in John Adams’s presidency, U.S. policymakers have sought to restrict who can and cannot enter the country, remain in the country, or become a citizen," The Atlantic reports. "Currently, anyone wishing to become a citizen or a permanent resident is asked whether he or she is or has ever been a member of the Communist Party, a totalitarian party, the Nazi Party, or a terrorist organization."

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