It’s Time for Honest Talk about Muslim Immigration

David French, National Review, November 30, 2016

At 9:52 a.m. on Monday morning, a silver Honda jumped a curb at Ohio State University and plowed directly into a crowd of students, sending bodies flying through the air. As students rushed to help, a young Somali immigrant, Abdul Razak Ali Ratan, got out of the car and began attacking horrified students with a butcher knife. All told, eleven people were wounded before a university police officer shot and killed Ratan, ending the attack.

Ratan is the third Muslim immigrant to mount a mass stabbing attack in 2016. The first occurred at an Israeli-owned deli in Columbus, Ohio, the second at a mall in Saint Cloud, Minn., and the third Monday at Ohio State. The attacks together wounded 25 people. The latest stabbing comes on the heels of Afghan immigrant Ahman Khan Rahami’s September bomb attacks in New York and New Jersey that left 29 injured.

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And if you think these are the only terrorist immigrants — or terrorist children of immigrants — you’re sadly mistaken. The Heritage Foundation has maintained a comprehensive database of terror plots since 9/11, a database that includes foiled attacks. The number of Muslim immigrants involved is truly sobering. For every successful attack, there are multiple unsuccessful plots, including attacks that could have cost hundreds of American lives.

After all these incidents, can we finally have an honest conversation about Muslim immigration — especially Muslim immigration from jihadist conflict zones?

When we survey the American experience since 9/11, two undeniable truths emerge, and it’s past time that we grapple head-on with them. First, the vast majority of Muslim immigrants — no matter their country of origin — are not terrorists. They won’t attack anyone, they won’t participate in terrorist plots, and they abhor terrorism. Some even provide invaluable information in the fight against jihad. That’s the good news.

The bad news is the second truth: Some Muslim immigrants (or their children) will either attempt to commit mass murder or will actually succeed in killing and wounding Americans by the dozens. All groups of immigrants contain some number of criminals. But not all groups of immigrants contain meaningful numbers of terrorists. This one does. It’s simply a fact.

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If the Democrats wish to maintain immigration from jihadist conflict zones, they need to rid their rhetoric of the language of “Islamophobia” and tell the truth. If they want to continue admitting refugees from jihad zones, they need to make the case that meeting the humanitarian needs of an extremely small fraction of the world’s Muslim refugees is worth the cost of importing a small number of mass murderers. They must make the case that the human toll in America is the price we must pay for national compassion.

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The Trump administration has an opportunity to implement a rational policy — one that rewards friends, preserves Muslim homes in the Middle East, and protects our borders far more effectively than did the Obama administration. In the 15 years of American engagement since 9/11, we have worked with a host of interpreters, allied soldiers, and sympathetic officials — many of whom have endured enormous risks to fight jihad. We should welcome these people with open arms. Muslim immigrants from outside jihadist conflict zones should be welcome as well, provided that they do not profess allegiance to the ideology of our enemies.

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During the primary, Trump outlined a number of immigration proposals, including proposals for “extreme vetting,” temporary suspension of immigration from “dangerous and volatile” regions that have a “history of exporting terrorism,” and establishing some form of additional ideological litmus tests as a condition for entry. He has also advocated establishing “safe zones” for Syrian refugees in Syria.

This is a promising start, but within weeks, he’ll have to get specific. It will be his responsibility to maintain Muslim alliances, protect America’s enormously profitable international tourist trade, and maintain the free flow of commerce across international borders, all while keeping out those men and women who seek to slaughter Americans in the streets. With the exception of his overbroad and misguided proposed temporary Muslim ban, Trump has been at his hard-headed best when it comes to understanding the need for a nation to protect its borders. Monday’s events at Ohio State demonstrate that it’s time to put his broad ideas into precise and effective practice.

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