One Hundred and Forty Characters or Less: Trump’s Inadequate Response to the Refugee Crisis

Photo by the Atlantic

Photo by the Atlantic

Take a look at Twitter. The top trending tweets are dominated by a man who regularly uses abrasive adjectives like “crazy” to describe people who disagree with him, makes fun of those who are disabled, and calls people “losers”— all while sitting in the White House.

How President Donald Trump runs his Twitter feed is comparable to how he makes foreign policy decisions, like those banning refugees from entering the United States: polarizing, brash, and nationalistic.  

While the Trump administration has done a few things well, such as making progress in boosting the economy and supporting the pro-life movement, Trump has not fought for policies consistent with America’s resources and ability to aid refugees. This is due to both Islamophobic fears and an intense nationalistic ideology that purports we must always put America, the best country,  first. Americans have no moral obligation to care for others displaced by their governments if we are comfortable.

Pretend for a moment you live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You didn’t choose to be born into a country full of brutal war crimes and civil unrest. Yet, like college student Andre Twendale, fate birthed you there instead of here. When dictator President Joseph Kabila refused to step down after a delayed election, Twendale led a rally protest at his university. During the rally, Twendale was arrested and thrown in prison. The guards brought him and seven other friends into a forest.  

How President Donald Trump runs his Twitter feed is comparable to how he makes foreign policy decisions: polarizing, brash, and nationalistic.  

The guards shot all seven of his friends.

The eighth shot should have killed Twendale, but he had befriended one of the guards, who faked the shot.

While he miraculously walked away alive, the horror wasn’t over for Twendale. He spent 11 years in refugee camps, and then finally made it to the U.S., just before President Trump enacted new policies cracking down on immigration. Unfortunately, however, the woman he met and married while in refugee camps applied to come to the U.S. separately, slightly later that Twendale. She was denied entry, and left in a camp.

On January 27, 2017, Trump signed an executive order, banning all citizens from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The policy experienced almost immediate backlash, and a protest began in New York insisting that refugees already in U.S. airports be received. For months, appeals and pushback circulated all over the country, and yet Trump remained firm in his policy.

The U.S. should not think that our role is to always intervene, being the superman of the world.  With considerations of global terror, particularly directed at the West, being appropriately cautious in vetting those who enter our country is not only prudent, but necessary. However, America is a country of wealth and resources—far more than we need and far fewer than we use to help those in true need. Thus, America has a duty to not turn a blind eye to the cry of the men, women and children born into war-torn, genocidal nations with governments who do not value human rights and instead pretend ignorance.

If America bans refugees with a policy a strict as Trump’s, it should not be because the president made a campaign promise that capitalized on America’s Islamophobic fears by promising to ban all Muslim immigrants from countries with a proven history of terrorism.  

Instead, America should carefully consider what aid we can give—how many people can we realistically and sustainably allow into our country? How many refugees are other countries, like Germany, taking in? How can we make our vetting process better and more thorough? The consideration must not be how can we do things that are most convenient for us, as we hold tightly to the nationalistic pride and material security that have been given to us by chance, while remaining blind to the harsh realities of the needs of real people in the world in which we live.

The opinions reflected in this OpEd are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, faculty and students of The King's College