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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Feb. 2)

All Headlines 06:48 February 02, 2017

Trump's immigration ban
Isolationism, unilateralism may hurt relations with allies

U.S. President Donald Trump's recent immigration ban to keep America safe from radical Islamic terrorists faces a backlash at home and abroad. He signed an executive order to indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and temporarily suspend immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries. He also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.

The measures worry and disturb the world. Discrimination based on nationality or religion is inhumane. Such anti-immigration action is tantamount to profiling peoples of the seven countries as illegal immigrants or potential terrorists. Terrorists may lurk among foreign nationals entering the U.S., but the U.S. should not break a butterfly on the wheel.

Trump's immigration ban may help stem the entry of terrorists from the seven states, but it risks spurring anti-American sentiment and giving a pretext for retaliatory terrorist attacks.

Isolationism and unilateralism, which run under the ban, will hurt relations between the U.S. and its allies.

Key American allies distanced themselves from Trump. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would welcome those fleeing persecution. German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern that the fight against terrorism doesn't justify placing people of a particular origin or faith under general suspicion. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that welcoming refugees who are fleeing war is part of its duty.

A self-isolated America would be the last thing that Korea, which depends on the U.S. for its defense, wants as its ally. It is desirable for a superpower like America to embrace other countries, not to divide them. Anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world does little good to both Korea and the U.S.

Trump's immigration order has roiled the U.S., far from uniting it.

Protests took place, lawsuits were filed and law scholars questioned its constitutionality.

The California legislature advanced a bill that would provide sanctuary for immigrants.

A large group of U.S. diplomats circulated a memo voicing their opposition to the order.

Celebrities spoke out against Trump's immigration ban at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The White House raised concerns about terrorist attacks by immigrants from the seven nations. No doubt, welcoming immigration policies can be exploited by terrorists, but critics note that recent acts of extremist violence have been carried out either by U.S. citizens or by individuals whose families were not from the nations singled out in the order. Foreign nationals who have carried out terrorist attacks have entered the U.S. legally on immigrant, non-immigrant or tourist visas.

While Trump cited the 9/11 attacks in explaining his move, none of the 9/11 hijackers' home countries -- Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- were included in the measure.

To discriminate against foreigners apparently on account of faith is far from greatness. To decide on all policies purely based on America's interest also abandons the principles that elevated the country.

American greatness came from integration, openness and tolerance. How can Trump make America great again by way of isolation, closedness and selfishness? The U.S.' immigration ban seems to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The U.S. is a nation of immigrants. Throughout its history, it has shown initiative and leadership in welcoming immigrants from all across the world. America's diverse culture has enabled it to become the most powerful nation.

The White House should revise the thinly veiled Muslim ban. Thorough vetting of individuals entering the U.S. is necessary but it should not seem like a religious ban.

Trump pledged during the campaign to crack down on undocumented immigrants. The crackdown is likely to focus on illegal immigrants with criminal records, but the scope could widen. Koreans in the U.S. are reportedly anxious about whether their lives may be disrupted under the Trump administration. The Korean government needs to draw up contingency plans in case the U.S. suddenly suspends or bars Koreans from entering the country.

The new U.S. government should amend the order and review its immigration policy. As French writer Alexis de Tocqueville said in 1831, America is great because America is good.
(END)

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