As the adage goes, those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it, and interestingly enough, the president’s executive orders seem to be a restitution of immigration bans that took place a century ago.
Almost exactly one hundred years ago, on February 5, 1917, Congress passed an act banning “undesirables” on the basis of physical appearance and race — an act deemed malicious and immoral. In that same year, the US passed the Immigration Act of 1917, designating an “Asiatic Barred Zone”, which excluded many Asians and Pacific Islanders from entering the country.
These acts reflected the discriminatory attitude that Americans at the time had towards these immigrants, an attitude that our current society claims we have moved on from. However, what our new administration’s policies have indicated is that we are from from removing ourselves from the past.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order blocking immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria for 90 days.
Policies marking groups of foreigners as “other” or dangerous or worse has never worked, and history has proved this time after time. Yet Trump, in his ignorance, has failed to learn from the events of 1917 and 1924, and his new immigration ban has cursed America with the same bigotry that cursed us in the past.
In an interview with CNN, when asked about the Muslim population as a whole, Trump responded, “We have people coming into the country, getting into Arab planes, and flying them into the World Trade Center.” He referenced the actions of a terrorist group as a stereotype of an entire people, embodying utter ignorance and discrimination.
Of course, preventing immigration of the entire Muslim population seems like an extremely efficient and ideal way to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.” It does not threaten to break apart families, nor does it cause any fear within foreigners whatsoever. Additionally, it removes all threats of terrorism in our country! We are safe again.
As Americans, we pride our country as being a “melting pot” of nationalities and cultures and identities, but such a standing is at stake. As Obama stated in support of protests, our nation’s values are at stake. And most of all, families, separated by an expanse of over 7000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, are at stake.