President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order that restricts travel to the United States from six countries. The nations that are targeted by the new travel ban have connections to Islamic terrorism. While this new ban will help to prevent radical Islamic terrorists from entering our country, it does not address another issue: domestic radicalization.
So far, the main threat from Islamic terrorism has not come from immigrants. The attacks have been carried out people who already reside in the United States. They are homegrown threats. According to the Heritage Foundation:
At least 50 publicly known terrorist plots against the United States have been thwarted since 9/11— at least 42 could be considered homegrown terrorist threats.
It is important to ensure that our borders are safe. The Trump administration must take the steps necessary to prevent terrorists from entering our country. However, they also need to work to avoid radicalization among the people who already live here. The government has instituted a program called “Countering Violent Extremism.” The objective of the program is to work with local groups to prevent radicalization in their communities.
While these programs could help, there is another issue we must address. This issue is our broken assimilation system. James Jay Carafano recently addressed this issue in a piece for the National Review. He states:
Whoever leaked a Department of Homeland Security document showing that children of immigrants raised in America radicalize at a higher rate than do their parents was clearly trying to thwart the Trump administration’s vetting plans. But what the leak accomplished was to confirm that our patriotic-assimilation system is broken to the point that it is now a national-security threat.
The document that Carafano is referring to is a leaked Department of Homeland Security report which stated that the citizens of the countries targeted by the travel ban were not a credible threat to the United States. President Trump’s critics have touted this report as evidence that his travel ban is not necessary. However, as Carafano says, the report only highlights the importance of fixing our assimilation system. Carafano goes on to state:
The document, leaked Thursday, is an assessment of the “radicalization of 88 foreign-born, U.S.-based persons who participated in a terrorism-related activity inspired by at least one named foreign terrorist organization.” Included is a review of 116 terrorists born in America, many of whom “had similar experiences and grievances to the 88 foreign-born.” Both the foreign-born and the native-born terrorists looked at in the study were indicted or killed between 2011 and 2016.
Most of the foreign-born terrorists in the study “likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry.” That last bit, a truism, would naturally apply to the native-born as well.
The children of these immigrants are called “1.5’s” because they came to the country as children; they were not born in the United States. While the children of immigrants integrate into American society, they do not assimilate. There is a difference. Integration means learning how our country functions; it means becoming familiar with our laws and economic system. However, integration does not address values. This is where assimilation comes in. Assimilation means adopting the values of the country in which they wish to reside. In the name of multiculturalism, we do not require immigrants and their children to embrace American values. Carafano continues:
Except they haven’t achieved their aim. “Integration,” which is generally used to mean that individuals understand how the U.S. economy functions and how they can fit into it, is no substitute for “assimilation,” which is the cultivation of patriotic feelings for a country and of cultural commonality with its people.
People die for God and country, not for an economic system. The key is identity.
This is the same problem that European nations are facing. They have allowed thousands of refugees and immigrants from predominantly Islamic countries to enter their country without insisting that they adopt European values. This has created a situation where most of the refugees and immigrants choose to form their communities, outside of normal society. James Carafano also notes:
We have long known that this separateness is the problem. It wasn’t necessary to leak the report to make the case that the predominant terrorist threat to America is homegrown. Joshua Meservey of the Heritage Foundation wrote in December that the 1.5s “may not fully identify with either their parents’ country or their adopted country. This can lead to a sense of isolation and aimlessness, which is a risk factor for radicalization.”
The left’s constant promotion of multiculturalism is making it easier for people to become radicalized. If we do not encourage immigrants and their children to embrace our values, they will continue to feel isolated. These feelings of isolation can lead people to believe that our country is the real enemy. Mike Gonzalez, in a piece for The Federalist, notes:
Is it any wonder we have the current situation? It is an economic axiom that the more you tax or deter something, the less of it you get, while the more you subsidize another thing, the more of it there will be. American elites’ decision to turn away from patriotic assimilation and pursue a multicultural model that perpetuates group differences—in effect, culturally and functionally segregating them—has created societal problems we will be dealing with for years.
When we allow immigrants to enter our country, we need to be sure that they share our values. We want people who understand what the United States stands for. If we focus more on assimilation rather than integration, we will prevent more terrorist attacks.
A self-confessed news and political junkie, Jeff’s writing has been featured in Small Business Trends, Business2Community, and The Huffington Post. Born in Southern California and having experienced the 1992 L.A. Riots up close and personal, Jeff's insights are informed by his experiences as a black man and a conservative.