The Reciprocity Controversy

November 8, 2017 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , United States

Geoff Livingston photo



Bronson Thomas



Just over sixteen years ago, tyranny came knocking on our nation’s front door; unexpectedly we answered, completely unprepared. In just a few hours, thousands of innocent human beings were lost amidst the engulfed chaos of the twin blaze. Their warm voices, distinctive smells, and sensual touches abruptly halted, having fallen victim to the unthinkable, never to be enjoyed or experienced in the flesh again.


Recently, our current presidential administration has enacted a “travel ban” to prevent a recurrence. Just how far will America go to protect society from another devastating attack like 9/11? Consider this, are we a country of law? Many who support the travel ban believe the policy will be effective in preventing terrorist attacks in the US; however, those who oppose the policy argue it will not provide effective domestic security and may in fact severely damage international relations while alienating Muslims worldwide.


The Trump administration’s Immigration Ban Policy signed January 27th, 2017, is a controversial issue that affects foreign and international relations and reciprocity between America and other countries involved in the ban. The White House has reported that the countries involved in the order are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia (“Presidential Proclamation”).


Notably, since the January 27th executive order, Cable Network News (CNN) has confirmed that North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela have been amended to the list as well (Liptak and Jarrett). The order in effect restricts travel to the United States, but is not limited to the aforementioned seven countries; it can apply to countries potentially considered a threat (“Pros and Cons”). By extremely enhancing visa screening and vetting requirements, diplomatic, economic, and social ramifications have risen exceptionally. In light of this matter, there are many concerns and questions about the constitutional integrity of national and foreign national rights and whether our current legislative authority is “upholding” them.


Those who support the executive order believe that an earlier implementation of effective visa vetting could have prevented incidents like the one that occurred on September 11, 2001.


Homeland Security tells us that State Department policy at the time failed to require Consular Officers to properly screen and vet visa applications from several of the 19 foreign nationals who committed the horrific act of terrorism” (“Immigration Data”). Equally important, as revealed by The World Bank, supporters believe that people attempting to enter the US with any criminal history will find it near impossible, let alone arduous, due to new screening requirements (“Pros and Cons”).


However, supporters affirm that despite tightening of security, no valid issued green cards, visas or travel document holders will be revoked. Essentially, those innocent people who meet the requirements will still be allowed to enter. Comparatively, the Department of State confirms that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism; entry has not been suspended for any national who possesses a valid student or exchange visa. For this reason, the Office of the Press Secretary has claimed: “Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document may enter” (qtd. In Presidential Proclamation). Many refugees have been admitted previous to the ban, and those who have already been granted asylum may still come in.


Furthermore, consular officers will be able to waive with discretion the new restrictions on a “case-by-case basis” (Liptak and Jarrett). If the individual can prove that being denied entry would cause them “undue hardship, and they do not present a threat towards public safety and national security, they may be waived.


To demonstrate, if a person seeking to enter the US to stay or permanently live with family, such as a spouse or child, who are legally allowed to live in the US, they may qualify. (“Presidential Proclamation”) A point even more commonly overlooked, the number of infants, young children, and individuals seeking urgent medical care, has significantly increased in the US this past decade. Most compelling, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asserts that individuals seeking shelter, aid from disasters, and help with emergency medical issues can be placed in programs that provide humanitarian aid and protection. Those who have fallen victim of rape, labor trafficking, sex trafficking, incest, torture, abduction, and female genital mutilation, to name a few, not only qualify for services, but also for entry (“Humanitarian”).


In contrast, an article in CQ Researcher explains why supporters agree that the US should not admit anyone who has participated in any hate crimes, acts of bigotry, or has oppressed Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation. Usually, these crimes involve violence against women, children, or the persecution of anyone who practices a religion different from their own (Karaim 630).


Recently, an article published in The Hill illustrates how the assessment of current and future threats from these foreign governments, especially those that sponsor or shelter terrorism, in no way are being religiously discriminated; they are targeted based on whether they are detrimental to the US (Wheeler). To emphasize, Zainab Arain, a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asserts: “No religion is inherently prone to violence. Rather, it is people in differing social, economic and political conditions who can be violent” (qtd. in Karaim 651). President Trump insists that the vetting systems’ sole purpose is for diplomatic security; it is not a travel ban and definitely not a Muslim ban (“Offices”). To put it differently, supporters believe that due to extreme anti-US movements, the external conditions and internal problems of all countries involved in the ban need to be reformed, not Muslims (633).


Although this may be true, opponents of the travel ban see this as a fulfilment of the president’s original campaign promise to pursue a “Muslim Ban.” In addition, at a December 2015 campaign rally, Donald Trump pressed for a complete and utter restriction on Muslims entering the US. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues it is important to realize, just because Venezuela and North Korea were added to the ban, in no way changes the order from still being a “Muslim ban” by nature. In like manner, all countries on and off the list will feel alienated; regardless, most are of Muslim majority (“Offices”).


As an illustration, every year, millions of people travel in and out of America; Muslims make up a small portion of the population. According to Pew Research Center, ten percent of immigrants coming to the US are Muslim. Not one person from the countries involved in the initial ban has killed anyone on US soil for the last 40 years. Throughout this tenure, all together, only 17 people have been convicted of planning or carrying out an attack in the US from the said listed countries. According to CNN, the odds of someone dying from a foreign-born attack are 0.00003%, that is 1 in 3.6 million. (Laura and Tatum) With this in mind, opponents of the ban question why countries that pose the least imminent threat to the US are listed, while countries known for attacks in the states are not listed, despite their past transgressions and notoriously violent rapport?


Moreover, coupled with that risk threat factor, those in favor of discarding the ban, find it unusual that the order has done nothing to restrict terrorists from countries that do not require visas for entry to the US from the UK and European Union (EU). To expand some, in 2017 terror-related arrests in the UK have risen to an all-time high. Large-scale terrorist attacks have increased in European nations like France, Belgium, and Germany, as well as thousands of Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) nationalists, have spawned from Europe recently. Britain has uncovered more than a dozen plots for terrorist attacks since 2013 (Robins-Early and Cook).


Uniquely, concerning entry, there is no minimum passport validity required for US citizens entering the UK. Through participation in The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), nationals from participating countries, traveling for business or tourism purposes, may stay for as long ninety days without obtaining visas (“United Kingdom”). Under no circumstances may citizens travel from countries on the ban list directly obtain a VWP pass; surprisingly, however, the loophole is through dual citizenship or permanent residency of nationals coming from the UK (“Passports”).


In the same fashion, those against the order examine the quid pro quo of raising stricter requirements for foreign nationals coming from other countries that have been directly or indirectly affected by the ban. Many innocent people will be unable to provide necessary information to qualify. As a result, only individuals with significantly higher income and resources will prove themselves eligible (“Pros and Cons”). Costly fees have become a determining factor for satisfying travel requirements, surely, lower class individuals stricken by poverty, seeking asylum will be restricted the most.


In either case, given these points, based on the context of terrorism, it is hard to believe that the policy in place will be effective in preventing terrorism in the US. The fact that the ban does not apply to the countries who carried out the attack on 9/11, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, to say the least, is very, very odd. Also, having a clear understanding that Islamic extremists are not limited to the conflict countries involved in the policy, along with the US failing to include the UK and EU in the presidential executive order is asinine.


Besides completely alienating Muslims and the Muslim religion worldwide, and despite the failed feeble alterations to cover up the orders original purpose; international diplomatic retaliation will undeniably become problematical. Furthermore, the main principle of diplomacy is reciprocity. Countries who are subject to stricter visa requirements, or who are being banned indefinitely, will no doubt do the same to the US. Ironically, there will be an impact for Americans traveling to the developing world; most certainly, economic costs will be impacted.


Objectively, to put it another way, there will be a paradoxical shift in the paradigm of globally opening economies that the US will most definitely be excluded from (“Pros and Cons”).


Ultimately, all things considered, by and large, the “Executive Order” must be impugned. It is paramount that the policy remains ever contested until all diplomatic, economic, and social components are ironed out and resolved. In the final analysis, there is room for the policy to be amended, however, once again the contention between the two opposing sides involved in the campaign remains split with the unreasonable arguments, tension, and disunity. In the end, the innocent caught in the collateral damage of this politically torn bout remain helpless, most trapped in a third world nightmare, an incubus so terrible that many unfortunates risk it all for a chance to escape poverty and the degenerates who sickly prey on the weak and vulnerable.


I cannot help but think, what if the tables were turned? With all things set aside, there is no sense in throwing a band-aid on a gaping wound, let alone sprinkling salt on it. To bridge the gap and mend the wounds, the only answer is a complete and utter ethical resolution. Until then, many will continue to suffer as a result of the deceptive deviations occurring at the top. Outright daunting, behind closed doors, this seemingly out of reach fight for human rights seems hopeless at times. Hopefully, we will see this problem unfold in favor of human kindness someday soon. All it takes is for one person to get into action to change the destiny of the world.


After all, against all odds, despite being shot in the face, Malala Yousafzai the youngest person and first Pakistani in history to win The Nobel Peace Prize says it best:


I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers,

and fathers fleeing violence and war. I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a

proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your

country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life.” (“Malala Fund”).






Bronson Thomas

Bronson Thomas Senior was born in Santa Barbara, California where he spent many useless years heavily procrastinating after serving in the United States Marine Corps. With a lost love for intravenous drugs and a bad habit of drinking cheap vodka from a paper bag, Thomas, now squeaky clean, resides in Goleta, California where he spends most of his time fathering three of his pride and joys. However, when not at home, he can be found pursuing his Computer Network Engineering major at Santa Barbara City College SBCC.



Works Cited


“Humanitarian.” USCIS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 12 May 2017, Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.

“Immigration Data & Statistics.” DHS, Department of Homeland Security, 25, Oct. 2017 Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.

Jarrett, Laura, and Sophie Tatum. “Trump administration announces new travel restrictions.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Sept. 2017, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

Karaim, Reed. “Muslims in America.” CQ Researcher, 28 July 2017, pp. 629-52, Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.

Liptak, Kevin, and Laura Jarrett. “Trump travel ban to be replaced with other restrictions.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 Sept. 2017,

“Malala Fund.” Malala Fund – Malala Yousafzai’s statement on President…, 27 Jan. 2017, Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.

“Passports.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, 27 March 2017, Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.

“Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.” The White House, The United States Government, 24 Sept. 2017, Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

“Pros and Cons of the Trump Immigration Ban Policy.” The World Bank, 9 Feb. 2017,,. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017

Robins-Early, Nick, and Jesselyn Cook. “A Recent History Of Terror Attacks In The U.K.” The Huffington Post,, 15 Sept. 2017,

“United Kingdom.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, 20 July 2016, Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

Wheeler, Lydia. “Travel ban not religious ban.”, 11 Aug. 2017, Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

“Offices.”, 27 March 2017, Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

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