Trump’s call for ideological screening will likely be damaging for the US’s economy
Coming from Donald Trump, a call to subject entrants to the US—whether tourists or immigrants—to “extreme vetting” and “ideological screening tests” wouldn’t be entirely unexpected. The Republican nominee for the upcoming US presidential elections is known for his controversial views on immigration. The demagogue that he is, Trump has framed it as an act of love for the US, saying “pride in our institutions, our history and our values … must be impressed upon all who join our society”. While it is easy to dismiss the Trump brand of xenophobia, it is also necessary to examine if there are cracks in the melting pot the US—and the rest of the West—had promised to become in the era of globalisation. Trump’s view that Islam is actively hostile towards America’s socio-cultural liberalism is one that is popular with many—as per a Brookings poll, nearly 61% Americans held an unfavourable view of the religion, even though, surprisingly, opinions on American Muslims were markedly less severe.
To be sure, the call for ideological screening is not new. It was advocated as a cure for communism in the Cold War era—the Alien Registration Act of 1940 was enforced strictly in the in 1950s and 1960s. In fact, the US has practised it all along, as per a Vox column, only with varying intensity (depending upon how threatened it has felt). Trump seems to have given his stance very little thought, given “extreme vetting” is likely to clog up the immigration system and deal a huge blow to the country’s $220-billion tourism industry. Given entry and visa privileges are established between countries on the principle of reciprocity, any narrowing of the kind he wants is also likely to affect Americans’ ease of traveling abroad. The fact is the West is struggling to achieve the ideal of multiculturalism—in France, where 7.5% of the population follows Islam, 63% in a survey said the tenets of Islam are not compatible with French culture, and in the UK, a quarter of Muslims surveyed said they favoured Sharia replacing the Constitution. The US, under Trump, is likely to be no different.