Vail Daily column: Dangers of immigration ban’s overkill |

Vail Daily column: Dangers of immigration ban’s overkill

Jack Van Ens

What reasonable person uses a shotgun to kill a housefly when a fly swatter will do?

The harsh ban on Middle Eastern immigration is as silly as firing buckshot to kill a fly. President Donald Trump’s deliberately provocative verbal assault, if compared to an NFL defense, would be penalized for dog piling. Already the U.S. exercises tough vetting procedures to bar terrorists. Contrary to logic, Trump’s crackdown piles on with more costs, regulations and time delays that deny entry to Syrian Christians.

This tactic worked in his presidential run. Trump’s toxic anti-immigration ban resonated with citizens fearful that foreign-born undocumented terrorists are crossing U.S. borders. Won’t they steal blue-collar jobs, rob white communities of historic identity, make porous national borders, threaten national security and milk social service freebies that hike budgets?

Trump’s immigration crackdown uses excessive tactics to split families and deport “… law-abiding immigrants whose only crime is using false documents to work. This policy may respond to the politics of the moment, but chasing down maids and meat packers will not go down as America’s finest hour” (The Wall Street Journal, “Trump’s Deportation Surge,” Feb. 23, 2017, p. A16).

Like nasty insects that defoliate dying trees, President Trump’s immigration roundup bores into Syrian Christian refugees’ splintered hopes, leaving them like rotting stumps.

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Such over-reach harms the U.S. in multiple ways. Deportation orders are pricey to implement. They decrease a vital workforce our nation depends on for economic advance. Trump’s immigration rollback overlooks what colonial history teaches about its dangers. Moreover, such inhumane policy threatens Syrian Christian refugees who deserve U.S. protection.

Costs of hiring personnel to remove illegal immigrants are gigantic. The ICE budget would increase by $4 billion, which doesn’t include hikes for finishing the wall between Mexico and the U.S. that strains a national budget with bloated deficits. This fiscal overkill represents a budget nightmare. Who is silly enough to use a shotgun to kill a fly?

Baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, leaving gaps in the workforce. With an aging population, how does our nation fill needs citizens take for granted and are unwilling to pay more for?

“The New Yorker’s (Trump’s) plan,” says The Wall Street Journal that pans it, “would do economic harm by slashing the workforce for construction, agriculture, restaurants, travel and other services. There aren’t enough Americans to fill those jobs now, so many of these services will vanish or become more expensive. This is why Trump employs H-28 visa holders at his Mar-a-Lago resort.” Who is silly enough to use a shotgun to kill a fly?

Moreover, Trump’s excessive ban overlooks an embarrassing history when anti-immigration fervor ran riot. After French Revolutionists in the 1790s chopped off heads and terrorized France, U.S. politicians over-reacted. They feared French anarchists, aided by Roman Catholic Irish, might leap across the Atlantic Ocean and invade our shores.

Congressman Harrison Otis from Massachusetts sounded like Trump does today, railing how he “didn’t wish to invite hordes of wild Irishmen, nor the turbulent and disorderly of all parts of the world, to come here with a view to disturb our tranquility.”

The Alien and Sedition laws were adopted in 1798. Previously, foreigners claimed citizenship in two years through the original Naturalization Act of 1790, but President John Adams’ administration stretched the wait to 14 years. Then they slapped protesters with the Sedition Act. Anyone who griped about the rulings to “make America great (and safe) again” from terror was imprisoned.

President Thomas Jefferson capitalized on this overkill. In his first State of the Union Address in 1801, he asked, “Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?” Ashamed of anti-immigrant overreach, Jeffersonians rolled back laws barring foreigners. Who is silly enough to use a shotgun to kill a fly?

Finally, President Trump’s immigration crackdown is morally repugnant and unchristian in respect to Syrian refugees who follow Jesus. Robert George, Princeton University’s conservative legal scholar, indicts Trump for a crime against humanity, declaring, “We shouldn’t be trying to fight terrorism by closing our doors to the victims of terrorism.”

He’s joined by virtually all faculty members at Princeton Theological Seminary. These professors teach historic Christianity. They posted a protest against Trump’s America First doctrine, judging it heretical. Trump spreads religious intolerance against Syrian refugees. These Christians in Syria, some who previously fled persecution in Iraq, aren’t just running for safety from ISIS. Their existence is imperiled as a small but vital Christian witness in Muslim lands. Syrian Christian churches have been burned, priests tortured, homes razed and sacred sites desecrated. An added insult on top of this misery: Trump’s harsh immigration restrictions bar the door to their freedom in America.

In all, 81 percent of white evangelical Christians and a majority of Caucasian Roman Catholics voted for Donald Trump. By endorsing Trump’s ban, they stiff Syrian refugees and then, with pious indifference, quote Jesus, “When Lord did we see thee a stranger (refugee) and welcomed thee, or naked and clothed thee?” (Matthew 25:38). Who is silly enough to use a shotgun blast to kill a fly?

Like nasty insects that defoliate dying trees, President Trump’s immigration roundup bores into Syrian Christian refugees’ splintered hopes, leaving them like rotting stumps.

Such a ban against Christian refugees who aren’t terrorists is silly, un-Christian overkill.

The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax exempt Creative Growth Ministries (, which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive.

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