Democrats criticize travel bans
DENTON — Local Democrats voiced their concerns about the actions made by President Donald Trump during his first month in the White House, specifically regarding January’s travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries and on all refugees.
The temporary bans on refugees and on all citizens entering the country from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen caused confusion at airports, leaving international travelers with green cards from returning to the United States, and sparking protests throughout the country in opposition to the travel bans.
The order has since been suspended by the courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit maintained a freeze on the immigration order by unanimously rejecting the government’s argument that the suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons.
President Trump said Friday he may issue a new, narrower travel order.
Denton resident Frank Miller believes Trump is playing on people’s fears with his immigration orders by citing recent terrorist attacks.
“Look what has happened in France. Look what has happened in Germany and Great Britain,” he said. “They give you these examples of terrorist things. Well, Trump is a master at playing against people’s fears. They keep saying we are protecting you. Wait a minute, what are you protecting us from? Are you protecting us from terrorists or from our fears? You are stoking our fears.
“My biggest concern is he is not being presidential but stoking people’s fears,” he said. “I didn’t like Bush, but when he came in and spoke to people, you listened to him and you felt better. You felt calm. This guy is not doing that.”
Miller said of the top 14 mass shootings in the United States in the last 10 years, 12 were committed by U.S.born citizens, and not a single one from the counties listed in the Muslim ban. “And he left off Saudi Arabia, which is where the 9/11 terrorists came from. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“As a trained psychologist, someone who makes data-based decisions, I think if you are going to make a decision, base it on data,” he said. “The data says we are not at risk for terrorist attacks from immigrants.
“The people we have been bringing over here have been families that have been thoroughly vetted, some for a year and a half or two years,” he said. “Others had green cards, were interpreters for us over there, came back over here and then said we still need you, went over there to help our troops interpret, and they try to come back into the country and they are turned away. Wait a minute, these are people on our side.
“When you start turning away people that are on our side, you alienate and radicalize them,” he said. “That turns them against us.”
Greensboro resident Tony Gianninoto said the scary part about Trump’s travel ban is he is doing what many of his supporters wanted.
“He is doing what they voted for,” he said. “A lot of them say, that is what we need to do. That is the sad part. There is a high percentage that like what is going on.”
Gianninoto said he is happy to see many around the country going out and protest Trump and his orders. He wants people to continue and voice their opposition to it and keep it in the spotlight.
“We need to keep this in the forefront so it doesn’t get forgotten,” he said. “It is a great to see so many voice their concerns and protest after the initial announcement, but we need to continue the momentum.”
Miller said he believes in the power of people.
“I think people have a lot of momentum going with all the marches and protests,” he said. “People are coming out and voting with their feet.
“It it sad what these people have gone through to leave their country only to be turned away,” he said. “You look at Syria and Aleppo, people leaving everything behind. They have gotten on boats, gone across deserts, just any way they could get out. They finally get in a place where they are in a refugee camp, and then they make their way here and get turned away and have to go back. It is sad. We need to reach out to these people. We are a country of immigrants.”
Miller believes Trump’s biggest issue is he has eliminated all the people with institutional knowledge.
“He has gotten rid of political appointees and nonpartisan career officers that have been there through several administrations,” he said. “He has gotten rid of so many people that there is not anybody there to advise, and that is what is scar y.
“Democrats seem to be more willing to have a different approach to domestic policies, but when it comes to foreign policy, we want to know what is going on out there,” he said. “We have not had access to these intelligence briefings because they are all top secret, so I’m going to defer to the previous administration.
He said Trump would rather trust Vladimir Putin and Russian rather than trusting the U.S.’s own intelligence agencies.
“They are disrespecting the institutional knowledge and the fact-based intelligence that they need to make the transition safely. “Trust your foreign service workers and your diplomats — people that are in these countries. These career diplomats have been in these countries for years and several administrations that have the institutional knowledge. You should depend on these people because they have been there.
Miller said he believes these actions are blatant racism, especially with the hiring of Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief advisor.
He said the United States has been in this position before when the country instituted interment camps for Japaneses-Americans during World War II.
“That was a black mark on our country,” he said. “We are here to keep our door open to refugees and immigrants. Our values are nondiscrimination, and avoiding prejudice. That is why you are not supposed to do racial profiling. But we are stopping people before they even get in our countr y because they happen to be Muslim.”
Miller believes Republicans are not speaking against the immigration and refugee bans and are forced to go along because they need to in order to get rid of what is on their agendas, like Roe. V. Wade and Obamacare.
“There are only four people who have stood up to Trump in any way, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, who I have a lot of respect for now, and the two people who voted against Betsy Devos, who has no business being secretary of education.”
Miller and Gianninoto both are concerned where Trump’s action will stop and what road they will lead the countr y down.
“If they are not going to allow Muslims, are they also going to stop Asians?” Miller said. “Are they going to stop people from France next because they have had terrorist attacks?
“Great Britain has allowed all of these immigrants in,” he said. “Germany has allowed all of these immigrants in. A lot of these immigrants were from these banned countries. Does that mean we can’t let people from Great Britain or Germany in the United States? How far do you go?
“Everything we do involves risk,” he said. “But we have to weigh that risk factor with other things that are more important. We need to be a country that reaches out to people in need. We have to accept the fact that there may be risks involved, but it is worth it.”