Donald Trump's answer on immigration is questionable, but he's right that there is a problem to solve
Amid all the passions aroused by Donald Trump’s order to restrict entry to the United States by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, two important points must be remembered. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads First, Mr Trump is doing something that he promised voters he would do. Before his election, he was entirely open about restricting the entry of Muslims. Americans cast their ballots in November knowing that this was his plan, and chose him as their president. Second, and more fundamentally, all nations have a right to control their borders. Indeed, the integrity of the border, the ability to decide who enters and who does not, is a sine qua non of an effective state. And states that give up that ability take a grave risk.
For evidence, consider the European Union, with its dogmatic commitment to free movement and the end of internal borders. However noble the original intentions behind the European project of fostering cooperation (and thus avoiding war) between its members, its drive to remove frontiers is dangerously inappropriate in an era of mass migration from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. In several deadly terrorist attacks, extremists have found it easier to operate because they can move freely around the borderless Schengen area. If Mr Trump – and the voters who him put in office – take from that experience the lesson that America must tighten its border security, that is understandable. Yet the way he applies that lesson is questionable.
Mr Trump suggests his blanket ban will make America safer. In fact, the opposite might be true: extremists have a new claim that the West is hostile to Islam. Meanwhile, the human cost of a policy that has divided families and denies refuge to innocent victims of war and terrorism, children included, is unacceptably high. The chaotic implementation of Mr Trump’s order is also troubling. This is too important an issue for such an arbitrary approach. The choice of countries covered by the ban also looks quixotic, further undermining confidence in US policy in the Middle East. Theresa May’s response to Mr Trump’s policy has been the right one: speaking as a candid friend to our American allies, she criticised its flaws, but (unlike facile moralisers on the Left such as Jeremy Corbyn) she also accepted the wider context of the ban. Mr Trump’s solution to the problems of immigration and extremism is controversial, but that does not mean those problems do not exist.
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