Email #113, Subject: “Nothing could be further from the truth”?

You recently wrote to me about the President’s immigration bans, stating that “there are some who believe the United States should overlook national security concerns and admit anyone who seeks to enter our country.”

That obviously is not true. No American wants to “admit anyone.” No American wants to overlook “security concerns.” All Americans are seeking a careful balance — especially in the cases of Syrian refugees in dire need of humanitarian aid. This is a bedrock American principle, literally chiseled into the base of the Statue of Liberty. Please do not mischaracterize it with a strawman argument that intentionally reduces a vexingly complex issue into absurdly false simplifications.

You also stated: “Some people have interpreted these actions as a “ban” on Muslim immigration.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Actually, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson, the Judge who struck down the President’s second attempt at the ban, pointed out that, by the Trump administration’s own estimates, the six countries targeted by the ban “have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.” While that may or may not constitute a “Muslim ban,” it negates your simplistic answer.

Finally, you stated in your letter: “These executive orders were drafted to close gaping holes in our nation’s visa screening programs, the refugee resettlement program, and other components of our immigration system.”

But you do not identify any these “gaping holes.” President Obama said last September: “Refugees are subject to more rigorous screening than the average tourist in the U.S.” PolitiFact.org researched his claim and concluded that it is true: “Reviewing the government’s vetting protocols confirms that refugees face a far stricter and longer process than tourists for entering the United States. The experts we consulted agreed that the refugee protocol is strictly enforced and more difficult than the screening process that tourists go through.”

Why do use your letters to constituents as opportunities to make misleading statements? You are the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, not your political party’s PR agent. Immigration policy is already a complex and emotionally fraught topic without inflammatory rhetoric. Our nation needs responsible, thoughtful leadership now more than ever.  Please respect the dignity of your office and stop making political ad pitches in the reductive language of a salesman.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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