First, it is important to note that it is entirely for the US Government to determine their immigration policy. During the presidential election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly stated that he would introduce this measure. In fact, he promised a measure that would go far further than what he is currently enacting. We should therefore be under no illusion that it is both within his power and his mandate to follow it through.
As the Executive order affected British citizens, it was right for the Foreign Secretary to intervene. I was pleased that he confirmed, having spoken to his US counterparts, that UK citizens and dual nationals are unaffected. However, I want to be clear: I believe that this is a misguided policy. The simple fact is that terrorist attacks, committed both in the US and in Europe over the past decade and more, have been carried out not by immigrants and refugees, but by radicalised nationals. It is important to note that on average nine people a year have been killed by Islamic extremists in the US since 9/11. Conversely—this point has already been made—on average 12,843 people are killed by guns in the US every year. Some would argue that the priorities are in the wrong order. Not one refugee from the countries included in the President’s travel ban has killed anyone in terrorist attacks on US soil. Further, the decision to ban refugees from war zones such as Syria and Yemen will serve only to force vulnerable men, women and children to remain at risk of persecution and death. It is also remarkable that the US is banning people from Iraq, a country it is supporting militarily against Daesh.
I have to be clear: the steps announced will not keep America safe. I fear it will serve simply to divide communities and give radical extremists yet another propaganda tool with which to turn vulnerable citizens against the United States. To use the words of the President, this will do nothing more than create more “bad dudes”. As I said, this is a decision for the President of the United States, but I strongly appeal for the Executive order to be revoked. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary make the strongest representations to that effect.
I just want to raise one final point. Of course we should speak out and I very much welcome this emergency debate, but if we are to speak with authority and credibility then we must be consistent in our condemnation. As I said to the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, 16 countries forbid admission to Israeli passport holders. In recent years, we have granted state visits to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom forbid admission to Israeli passport holders. If we genuinely believe that banning individuals on the basis of their nationality is wrong—I very much hope we do believe it—then let us condemn these policies wherever they raise their ugly heads.