Yesterday, I heard a conservative talk show host claim that Donald Trump may not be correct to want to block all Muslims from entering the country, but he’s the only one who has a plan. That’s hogwash. There are many good ideas with actual policy actions being proposed by most of the candidates. The problem is that Trump’s tidbit sentences make for better press than full blown proposals that most Americans and even media outlets refuse to read.
The funny part is that Trump’s plan is actually less harsh than many of the ones being fully proposed or vetted by candidates. Ted Cruz has the most secure plan, one that legally addresses the persecution of religious minorities. This means that Christians and Jews in Muslim-dominated countries will get much higher preference from a refugee perspective while immigrants from all religions, including Muslims, must demonstrate cultural and economic integration with American values.
Trump’s plan frames the situation as American versus Islam. That might not be how he phrases it but that’s exactly how it will be perceived. This will embolden more radicalization within the country. The Cruz plan, on the other hand, addresses the issue of actual national security. It brings about tests that would have likely filtered out Tashfeen Malik from being able to enter the country in the first place. Ironically, Trump’s plan, which focuses on exclusion of Muslim immigrants, would not have prevented her entry.
Could Trump prevent legal immigration from Muslim countries? Yes. That’s actually a power granted to Congress. However, to prevent Tashfeen Malik from entering requires more than an act of Congress. It would require one of two things: a Cruz-styled revamping of the K-1 visa program or a Constitutional amendment. Since Syed Farook was an American-born United States citizen, it would be impossible for Trump’s plan to have prevented Tashfeen Malik from entering the country.
Trump’s plan isn’t a plan at all. It’s a sound bite. If fails to address the actual issue of radical Islamic terrorists entering the country and encourages deeper resentment within current Muslim residents. With Trump’s plan, one simply has to have had no criminal record and claim that they aren’t Muslim. That’s the problem with ideas that seem good on the surface but that fail under scrutiny. They sound great in a candidate’s sales pitch but they are untenable as actual policy.
Nobody is better at framing a sentence to draw votes and applause than Donald Trump. However, compared to the plans proposed by Ted Cruz, Trump’s ideas are too weak to actually work.