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Zirpoli: Travel ban continues to do harm

When White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked by reporters about young children being separated from their parents and held alone for hours in detention at airports because of their birthplace, he stated that "to assume that someone, because of the age or gender, would not be a threat is misguided and wrong."

Spicer, however, has a long history of tweeting complaints about inconvenient airport screening procedures. In one of his complaints dated Aug. 27, 2015, Spicer tweeted, "Top notch TSA in Denver just threw out my 3.8 oz. deodorant — great to see such focus, sorry seat mates in row 25." Meanwhile, during a White House briefing, Spicer said that children who were detained were "temporarily inconvenienced for the safety of us all." Funny how Spicer believes that detaining young children at airports because of their birthplace is only a temporary inconvenience, but that losing his deodorant because he didn't follow directions is worthy of a complaint.

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So it has come to this. The big and powerful United States of America is now threatened by young children getting off airplanes, even when they have been screened at their point of entry and after securing travel papers to visit the United States. In reference to a 5-year-old separated from his mother for five hours, Spicer suggested that the boy could be entering the U.S. carrying a weapon or a bomb despite making it through airport security at both ends of the trip, and after five hours of searching by customs agents. Could they not determine in the presence of the boy's mother that he was clean? Did they really need to hold the boy for five hours? Are we still the land of the free and home of the brave?

To support the need for a travel ban from the seven predominantly Muslim countries, the White House published a list of the 78 "major terrorist attacks targeting the West." But Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, noted that none of the attacks listed by the White House were conducted by four of the seven Muslim nations included in Trump's travel ban. In fact, of the 90 terrorists involved in the 78 attacks noted by the White House, 50 of them came from Christian-majority nations, including 16 from France, 13 from the United States (including 11 citizens), and seven from Belgium. Other nations where the 90 terrorists originated included Australia, Canada, Germany, Russia, Morocco, Sweden and the United Kingdom. None of these nations, however, are included on the travel list and adds more questions about why the seven nations were selected.

Trump has spoken about having Muslims carry ID cards. Seems he has learned much from the practices of Nazi Germany in addition to borrowing their slogans ("Make Germany Great Again"). In response, Tayyib Rashid tweeted to Trump, "I'm an American Muslim and I already carry a special ID badge. Where's yours?" Rashid was referring to his military ID. He served five years in the Marine Corps and was deployed three times. Trump does not have a military ID; five draft deferments during the Vietnam war took care of that. Rashid, however, believes all Americans should serve. "As an American, I benefit from the liberty and opportunity of this country, and it is my obligation to serve this nation," he tweeted.

American colleges and universities will be hit especially hard if Trump's travel restrictions are upheld. Most Americans would be surprised to know that more than 20,000 students from Iran attend American schools every year. At MIT, 40 percent of the faculty and graduate students come from 134 countries outside the United States. If Trump's ban holds, Stanford University reports that 97 of its students would be banned from returning to school there because they are from one of the restricted countries.

Jethro Mullen reports that about 100 U.S. technology firms, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix and Twitter, have filed "friend of the court" briefs declaring that Trump's executive order "is inflicting substantial harm on their employees and companies." Many American companies do business all over the world, many of their employees were born outside of the United States, and, according to their brief, "Immigrants make many of the nation's greatest discoveries, and create some of the country's most innovative and iconic companies."

The words chiseled on the Statue of Liberty's banner read, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." If those words no longer apply, if we are not going to welcome refugees to our shores, perhaps we should think about giving the Statue of Liberty back to France.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is a professor and coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays.

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