Robert George and Angela Wu Howard. First Things, February 2, 2017.
Robert P. George: Angela Wu Howard is a leading international human rights lawyer and activist with whom I have worked in defense of religious liberty. I admire her and hold her in the highest esteem. I had been planning to write an analysis of President Trump’s recent executive order, but Angela has saved me the trouble. There is nothing in what she says below that I can improve on. I am extremely grateful for her work, and if you take the time to read her analysis (which began as a Facebook post), you will be grateful, too.
There is an enormous amount of confusion about the EO. President Trump bears much responsibility for the confusion, and his critics bear some of it. In my opinion, the EO was not necessary and therefore should not have been issued. Angela explains why. A significant part of the reason is that we already have “extreme vetting” of refugees. In this important respect, we are quite unlike many European nations. Of course, most Americans don’t know this. So they fear that what has happened in some places in Europe could happen here. I myself only learned about the stringency of our refugee vetting procedures as a result of extensive briefing when I was chairing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). There are many things in our government that are “broken,” but our refugee vetting system isn’t one of them. We needn’t, and therefore we shouldn’t, shut out refugees who are fleeing terrorism in places such as Syria and Iraq, even temporarily. Because it isn’t necessary to do it, it is, in my opinion, necessary not to do it.