Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is skeptical of immigration from Muslim countries. In the wake of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, shooting, where Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez allegedly killed four Marine officers before being killed by authorities, Paul told Breitbart News he believes immigrants from Muslim countries — especially those coming into the United States with student visas — should be put on a heightened level of scrutiny. Paul's stance on Muslim immigration is should be subject to a heightened level of scrutiny. It's clear that Paul's stance on Muslim immigration is meant to court the votes of far right conservatives within the GOP, but his hardline take on the issue is an extremely unreasonable position to hold.
Immediately after leaving the stage for his presidential campaign at Houston's Hyatt Regency hotel, the 2016 GOP candidate told Breitbart in an exclusive interview backstage that he's concerned about the "hotbeds of jihadism and hotbeds of this Islamism," referring to the July 16 shooting. He went on to say his concerns of Islamic extremism have led him to believe in furthering restrictions against immigration from Muslim countries.
"I think there does need to be heightened scrutiny [about immigration from Muslim countries]. Nobody has a right to come to America, so this isn’t something that we can say 'oh their rights are being violated,'" Paul said. "It's a privilege to come to America and we need to thoroughly screen those who are coming."
Furthermore, the Republican referred to a case in which two Iraqi refugees (not students) immigrated to Kentucky and plotted to buy stinger missiles.
I think we're doing the wrong thing by just having this open door policy to bring in people without significant scrutiny. I'm for increasing scrutiny on people who come on student visas from the 25 countries that have significant jihadism. Also, any kind of permanent visas or green cards, we need to be very careful. I don’t think we’re being careful enough with who we let in.
As chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, Paul vowed to further investigate "Muslim immigration problems." This is a problem considering that the Republican presidential candidate is wrong on Muslim immigration on several accounts.
The "Two Iraqi Immigrants" Example Is Misleading; They Were A Part Of A FBI Sting Operation.
What Paul failed to mention is that the the Iraqi refugees in question — Waad Ramadan Alwan, 31, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 24, both Iraqi nationals that lived in Bowling Green — were part of a 2011 FBI sting operation. According to court documents, the FBI used an informant to recruit and convince Alwan to send money and weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq. From August 2010, Alwan met with the informant several times for the FBI to produce enough recordings of their meetings and conversations. For four months, Alwan began participating in deliveries of weapons and money thinking it’d reach al Qaeda. In January 2011, Hammadi was recruited by Alwan and worked for another five months before their arrest.
Alwan and Hammadi are currently serving their sentence for their federal terrorism charges. Alwan, who pleaded guilty to a 23-count indictment for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals abroad, received a reduced sentence of 40 years for cooperating with U.S. authorities. After his 40-year stint, Alwan would be sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest. Hammadi, on the other hand, was sentenced to life in prison.
Terrorism Attacks Are Most Likely Done By Right-Wing Radicals Than Muslim Immigrants.
Although this should be common knowledge by now, there has been more acts of terrorism made by radical right-wing conservatives than Muslims. In fact, according to a FBI report, 90 percent of terrorist attacks in the United States were carried out by non-Muslims from 1980 to 2005. According to the New America Foundation, twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, anti-government activists, and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.
Since 9/11, 48 people have been killed by right-wing extremists compared to the 26 killed by Islamic extremists. In other words, you're more likely to be killed in the United States by someone who could vote for the next GOP nominee than someone who follows an extreme interpretation of ISIS' ideology Salafism. In fact, the majority of cases of terrorism attacks that were conducted by a Muslim were done by native-born Americans than immigrants. While Paul has been right in the past that NSA surveillance doesn't do much to protect Americans from terrorism, he’s wrong in that restricting (or placing "heightened scrutiny") immigration from Muslim countries would do the same.
Paul Dangerously Assumed The Chattanooga Shooter Was Motivated By Islamic Extremism.
It’s true that the alleged Chattanooga shooter is an immigrant. But Paul, at least as of now, is wrong in making the assumption that Abdulazeez's motive was Islamic extremism. In fact, federal authorities are still investigating the incident and are unsure of the actual motive. More importantly, Paul fails to consider looking into the factors that caused Abdulazeez — and other cases of domestic terrorism allegedly conducted by American Muslims — to carry out the Chattanooga shooting.
Abdulazeez came to the United States as an infant at the start of the Gulf War and was granted U.S. citizenship. But what's been left unsaid by many of the anti-Islam polemicists is that Abdulazeez's family had struggled with its place in American society as Muslims. His sister, Yasmeen, told the Chattanooga Free Press in 2010 she was harassed in her high school for wearing a headscarf on the volleyball court and in her classroom. Yasmeen, however, wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself and her beliefs.
"I'm not afraid to go straight toward them and ask them, 'Do you really know what Islam is?'" she told the local paper. "There’s this misconception that Islam is a violent religion. Muslims are actually peaceful."
While those who align with Paul's position would like to point to sources claiming Abdulazeez was radicalized after his visit to the Middle East in 2014, they failed to emphasize that Abdulazeez was struggling with his faith until allegedly a few months prior to the shooting. Most of his peers have described Abdulazeez as an all-star wrestler, "disciplined mixed martial arts fighter," and pious Muslim who would always stop to make sure he prayed at 6:00. But the engineer of Jordanian-Palestinian origin was struggling with his inner demons and his Islamic faith, friends said.
Last April, Abdulazeez was arrested on DUI charges after dropping his friends off at their homes from a night of pot smoking and caffeine-snorting. In a statement on Sunday, the Abdulazeez family confessed that their son struggled with depression and would self-medicate through alcohol, drugs, and prescribed medication. This provided a stark contrast to the Kuwaiti-born American who portrayed himself as a "devout Muslim" living in a "prison of monotony and routine." In Islam, drugs and alcohol are forbidden since it is considered as harmful and forces people to stray away from God-consciousness. Also according to family sources, Abdulazeez would be in and out of treatment for depression, and despite his family's pleas, he would frequently stop taking his medication.
It’s A Huge Blow To Silicon Valley, Where Paul Is Courting Votes From.
Through his his impressive use of GIFs for his tweets and avid use of Snapchat, Paul isn’t only courting millennials. He's courting votes from Silicon Valley. It explains why he had already set up shop in San Francisco with a campaign office. With his strong opposition to government surveillance, the libertarian-leaning politician has been tirelessly making efforts in establishing alliances with affluent industry executives and entrepreneurs in terms of policy. But enforcing heightened scrutiny against immigrants from Muslim countries through student visas is a detrimental blow to the industry he depends on for his road to the White House.
In fact, an enormous percentage of international students from Muslim countries are enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and medical (STEM) fields. According to data composed by the Institute of International Education, about 80 percent of Iranian and 41 percent of Saudi students are enrolled in STEM programs. And according to data by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, 78 percent of students immigrating from India — a country that has 138 million Muslims — enroll in STEM fields as well.
When it comes to international students in STEM fields — who've obtained scholarships through taxpayer funds — finding work in Silicon Valley is a hard task for one reason: U.S. immigration laws. The United States already has strict immigration laws for international students, which has damaged America's standing in the technology industry.
Instead, these aggressively coveted students have migrated to other countries with far lenient immigration policies that provide them with opportunities to stay after graduation, like in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, according to director of public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators Rachel Banks. Even venture capitalists in Silicon Valley are unhappy with the current immigration laws placed against international students in STEM fields. Billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz told CNN.com that the tech industry in the U.S. "has an inexhaustible appetite that cannot be satisfied" by just Americans with talents in the STEM fields.
Furthermore, restricting student visas for international students from Muslim countries will be another loss opportunity for the U.S. economy. According to a NAFSA report from 2014, international students and their families contributed about $27 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2013-14 academic year. Since a great portion of these international students come from Muslim countries, expect to see the number dwindle if Paul's plan becomes a reality.
Paul’s remarks aren't just another example of how the GOP’s most serious contenders have lost most of their credibility by pandering to far right conservatives. With Donald Trump remaining on top of polls at the expense of Hispanic immigrants, Bobby Jindal and his seeming distaste toward the Indian American community, and now Paul's attempts to target the Muslim community, the 2016 race to the White House has served as a monumental illustration of the GOP's ugly shift towards unforgiving bigotry and xenophobia towards ethnic and religious minority communities in the United States.
In fact, it wasn't long ago when George W. Bush won most of the Arab American and American Muslim vote by speaking against policing the world and racial profiling on the campaign stage. It was only 2008 when General Colin Powell spoke beautifully about Muslims (and Muslim immigrants) who proudly served the American military. Also compare these views with those of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates — Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and even Paul's father Ron Paul — men who held far more mature views of the world than their 2016 counterparts. This is the GOP's story over the past few years, and it looks like if they keep going down this path, it'll be a story with a sharp decline and a devastating ending.