Tom Gross

The self-righteous backlash to Trump’s immigration ban could play into his hands

Donald Trump’s executive order which, he says, was aimed at making it harder for terrorists to enter America, targets three groups: refugees in general, who are blocked from entering the U.S. for the next 120 days; refugees from Syria, who may be barred indefinitely; and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries (countries initially selected by the Obama administration), who are barred from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.

The executive order is morally unacceptable (it amounts to collective punishment), strategically dubious (since many terrorists are home-grown or came from countries other than those seven), and was initially implemented in a confusing and clumsy way which caused distress and uncertainty to many travellers, including US residents, even if they were not in the end affected by the order.

Additionally, it sets an anti-immigrant tone, when immigrants can hugely benefit their new countries. Just in the hi-tech sector alone, many of America’s greatest companies have been founded by Jewish child refugees: Google creator Sergei Brin fled anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union with his parents in 1979; Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, says he escaped anti-Semitism in Ukraine with his mother in 1992; And Andy Grove, who survived the Holocaust in hiding as a child in Hungary while his family were deported to Auschwitz, went on to found Intel. There have been success stories of migrants of Syrian origin too. The biological father of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was Abdulfattah Jandali who was born into a Muslim family in Homs, Syria. How many of us today would be worse off if we didn’t have an iPhone or iPad? On a side note, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s mother was from a family of Syrian-Jews who had left Syria partly because of anti-Jewish prejudice there. In Britain, Muslim and Hindu migrants have made a huge contribution in many fields, notably medicine.

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