Perspective on Trump's refugee executive order
Here is a link to the text of the executive order on CNN's website. (The White House website has yet to post it.)
David French, a columnist at National Review and a vocal opponent of Donald Trump -- so much so that he considered mounting an independent presidential campaign as a conservative alternative -- has written a detailed analysis of Trump's executive order regarding refugees from terrorist-ridden nations, placing this order in the context of the history of US policy toward refugees. Some excerpts:
First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump's 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush's two terms and a typical year in Obama's two terms. [See the article for a chart showing refugee ceilings and admissions over the last 40 years.]...
Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments....
The ban, however, contains an important exception: "Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked." In other words, the secretaries can make exceptions -- a provision that would, one hopes, fully allow interpreters and other proven allies to enter the U.S. during the 90-day period.
To the extent this ban applies to new immigrant and non-immigrant entry, this temporary halt (with exceptions) is wise. We know that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors. We know that immigrants from Somalia, for example, have launched jihadist attacks here at home and have sought to leave the U.S. to join ISIS.
Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it's clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat. Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent.
He also points out that the language of the order does not include legal permanent residents (green-card holders). These people have been thoroughly screened already.
James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has lived as a foreigner in Egypt and Canada, had to leave Egypt and live in a tent in a refugee camp in Cyprus, and is married to a Chinese immigrant. Prof. Hoffmeier published a book in 2009 about what Scripture says about immigration. He was interviewed at the time by Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition.
What I learned in my study is that there are three relevant terms used in Hebrew (ger, zar, nekhar). Different English translations render the words differently. The TNIV and NLT render them all as "foreigner." That is misleading and incorrect.
Zar and nekhar indeed refer to foreigners or visitors, people passing through a foreign land.
Ger or the verb gwr, which together occur more than 160 times in the OT, refer to foreign residents who live in another land with the permission of a host. A good example of this is found in Genesis when Joseph asks permission of pharaoh for his family to move to Egypt (Gen. 45:16-18). When they arrived, the brothers asked pharaoh if they could sojourn in the land (Gen. 47:1-4), and Pharaoh allotted them a section of the land of Goshen or Rameses (Gen. 47:5-7).
The law is clear that ger is not to be oppressed, but to receive equal justice, and have access to the social support system of ancient Israel. And there was a provision for religious inclusion, but they were also obligated to live in accordance with the laws just like the Israelites.
The Law does not, however, extend to the zar and nekhar such benefits and services. From this I conclude that ger was viewed as a legal alien.
The mistake of some well-meaning Christians is to apply the biblical laws for the ger to illegal aliens in American even though they do not fit the biblical legal and social definition.
By way of contrast, take a minute to read about Australia's refugee policy, which was adopted in response to a surge of refugees arriving by boat in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Anyone attempting to enter Australia illegally by boat is either returned whence they came or, if seeking asylum, sent to one of two offshore refugee processing centers, one on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (which is being closed) and one in the island nation of Nauru. Australia still accepts around 12,000 to 13,000 refugees each year, a number representing about half-a-thousandth of the national population. The policy has deterred attempts at illegal immigration by boat.
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