Which is Bigger: America’s Love for Freedom or America’s Fear of Terrorism?
by Chanmealea Thou, Student Writer Vol. 20

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor, that twin cities frame.
‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tos't to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”[1]


The Federal Government has almost an exclusive power in regulating the area of immigration and this power is distributed almost entirely to Congress and the Executive branch. For instance, Congress has a broad plenary power under the Constitution to enact substantive immigration laws.[2] Meanwhile, the President has constitutional powers, as well as powers delegated to him by Congress, to regulate immigration in certain matters including national security.[3] On 01/27/2017, the 45th President of the United States decided to exercise his broad discretion on national security and issued an executive order, banning entry of all Syrian nationals for an indefinite amount of time.[4] In addition, nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen were banned for 90 days.[5] These countries are countries that are torn by war and violence and are not stable.[6] To be noted, however, nationals from these countries did not participate in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2011, which was cited as a motivation for the order.[7]

A question this ban pose is, which is bigger—America’s love for freedom or America’s fear of terrorism?

From my perspective, I think Americans prioritize their love for freedom. Some of my reasons include:

(1) Approximately, 1.7 million out of 7.9 million Cambodians were killed during the Khmer Rouge Regime, a genocide led by a group of Cambodians against fellow Cambodians.[8] Between 1975 and 1994, approximately 158,000 of those who survived the Regime, gained entry to the United States as refugees and humanitarian parolees.[9] They were not sweepingly banned under fear that some may be potential killers. Some of my family members were among those refugees—those refugees who were fleeing a war-torn country, starvation, and poverty, yearning to breathe free. They have settled well into the American society.

(2) After the release of the executive order, a large number of protesters and lawyers, or courageous dissenters, flooded airports across the country to voice their opinion against this broad exclusion and to show support to fellow American citizens and residents, as well as the refugees who were affected by the ban.[10]

(3) On 02/04/2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered a stay on the executive order. This means that the executive order is no longer effective.[11]

(4) On 03/06/2017, the President issued a similar executive order on immigration. On 03/15/2017, a federal judge enjoined parts of the new immigration ban that effectively act as an immigration ban.[12]

The United States has shown itself time and time again that they value freedom more than they fear terrorists and violence. Ultimately, “law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings.”[13] Victims of violence and persecution should be regarded as victims; even if their countries are wrecked by violence and terrors, these victims should not be sweepingly labeled as “foreign terrorists or criminals.”[14]

Stay positive and keep your lamp up, fellow Americans.

[1] Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus (1883). See also, Emma Lazarus, Nat’l Park Serv., https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/historyculture/emma-lazarus.htm (last visited Feb. 15, 2017) (“[I]n 1903, words from the sonnet were inscribed on a plaque and placed on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty”).

[2] See I.N.S. v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983).

[3] See U.S. Const. art. II, §2; 8 U.S.C. § 1182 (f) (2013).

[4] See Exec. Order No. 13769, 82 Fed. Reg. 8799 (Jan. 30, 2017).

[5] Angela Dewan & Emily Smith, What It’s Like in the 7 Countries on Trump’s Travel Ban List, CNN (Jan. 30, 2017, 11:25 AM), http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/trump-travel-ban-countries/.

[6] September 11th Hijackers Fast Fact, CNN (Sept. 5, 2016, 12:14 PM), http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/27/us/september-11th-hijackers-fast-facts/.

[7] Angela Dewan & Emily Smith, What It’s Like in the 7 Countries on Trump’s Travel Ban List, CNN (Jan. 30, 2017, 11:25 AM), http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/trump-travel-ban-countries/.

[8] Sucheng Chan, Cambodians in the United States: Refugees, Immigrants, American Ethnic Minority, in Oxford Research Encyclopedia, American History, http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175..... http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.....

[9] Id.

[10] Emanuella Grinberg & Madison Park, 2nd Day of Protest over Trump’s Immigration Policies, CNN http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/us-immigration-protests/

[11] See State of Washington v. Trump, No. C17-0141JLR, 2017 WL 462040 (9th Cir. Feb. 4, 2017).

[12] Exec. Order No. 13780, 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 06, 2017); Hawai'i v. Trump, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36935.

[13] Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)(Harlan, J., dissenting).

[14] Exec. Order No. 13769, 82 Fed. Reg. 8799 (Jan. 30, 2017).