Democrats crit­i­cize travel bans

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­

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.”

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