[Meant to post this a few days ago, then it got lost in the drafts pile 🙂 ]

Ah yes, right on time, the anti-immigrant hysteria is flaring up after the underpants bomber incident.

Congressman J. Gresham Barret, from South Carolina’s 3rd District, has decided to reintroduce legislation that deport, and bar entry of, all nationals from countries marked “State Sponsors of Terror”. Oh, but of course, he’s going to throw in Yemen too, because, this poorly crafted legislation doesn’t include Yemen, but in light of recent events, we’ve got to get all those new Yemeni-haters on board too.

The inclusion of Yemen is quite telling, actually,  because it’s a blatant admission that terrorists can come from places that aren’t “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” which is just one tiny reason why the idea of this law is stooooooopid to begin with.

From the blog on the National Iranian American Council:

Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC) has announced his intention to reintroduce legislation that would prohibit “the admission of aliens from countries designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism as well as Yemen to the United States.”  The Stop Terrorist Entry Program (STEP) Act, first introduced in 2003, also would have required all persons from these countries on student visas, temporary work visas, exchange and tourist visas to leave the United States within 60 days, despite their legal status in the country.  Residents and nationals of Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen would be affected.

The bill makes an exception only in the cases of individuals who are seeking political or religious asylum, or who have immediate emergency medical needs.

Congressman Barrett said his bill came in response to the Fort Hood shooting and the Christmas-day attempt to blow up an airplane over Detroit. “While President Obama may have declared an end to the War on Terror, it is clear our enemies did not get the message. Twice in the past two months, radical Islamic terrorists have attacked our nation and the Administration has failed to adapt its national security and immigration policies to counter the renewed resolve of those who seek to harm our citizens.”

But the undies bomber guy wouldn’t have been affected. And neither would the Fort Hood shooter. And neither would all of those 9-11 bombers from Saudi Arabia. So yeah, well thought out reaction, guys. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

I get so frustrated with the simplistic thinking of these folks. It seems to fit with the conservative mentally to think in black and white, clear-cut terms, which unfortunately makes their arguments and slogans and proposals appealing to people who think on this shallow level, never considering nuance, never considering unintended consequences, never, well, considering.

One blogger at NIAC explained one such consequence for him:

This would mean that if the STEP Act were to pass, my Calculus tutor Bijan would be deported before we even take our final exams, simply for being here on a student visa. The STEP Act doesn’t take into account that Bijan has only twenty more credits to complete his B.S. in Biology, simply focusing on the fact that he is Iranian.

And they feature the profile elsewhere on the NIAC blog of Iranian Shahram Hashemi, a student at the time of 9-11 and now on a H1 visa working for the board of Amnesty International USA, who helped pull bodies out of rubble at ground zero, and who would be given 60 days to leave after 10 years of contributing to his adoptive country.

Now, a few days after starting this post, after checking back to the NIAC website, I find that their campaign to stop this bill seems to have had some progress. Well, for Iranians at least.

Washington DC – Congressman Gresham Barrett’s (R-SC) office has confirmed to NIAC that he will drop language aimed at deporting non-immigrant Iranians from the U.S. when he reintroduces the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act today.

This is a major victory for the Iranian-American community.

Uhhhh. Great but, ummmm, what about everybody else!?!? They go on to mention that this isn’t good enough, but only because “We shouldn’t make it more difficult for Iranians to seek refuge in the US at a time when repression in Iran is increasing.”

Dudes! Where’s the solidarity? Where’s the outrage that your brothers and sisters from other countries deserve the same protections against discrimination on the basis of nationality? Kind of a disappointing reaction. :p A bit of an “as long as I’ve got mine” attitude it seems.

There are several links to where you can send an email to your congressperson to protest the STEP act, but I’m kind of annoyed that all the language is Iranian specific. Why? If Iranians weren’t affected it would still be a horrendous piece of legislation, and it doesn’t serve the Iranian activists well to imply that if they get excluded from the STEP that that would make it somehow ok.

[Update – just for those who are curious – the official “State Sponsors of Terrorism” are: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria]

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