In the wake of the deterioration of the human rights situation for women in Afghanistan after President Biden followed through on Donald Trump's agreement to hand Afghanistan over to the Taliban, some people, no doubt motivated by a sincere concern for the rights of American women, have questioned whether it is appropriate to admit refugees from Afghanistan. This concern arises from reports that denial of women's rights, often accompanied by violence, goes far beyond the Taliban, and is deeply rooted in Afghan society, especially in rural areas. See: 2/13/2016:

DEEP-ROOTED GENDER DISCRIMINATION REMAINS UNCHAINED IN AFGHANISTAN

https://www.fairplanet.org/story/deep-rooted-gender-discrimination-remains-unchanged-in afghanstan/


The argument against admitting refugees from such a "cultural" background is based on the implied ideological assumption that they might form a basis for opposition to women's rights in the United States. I will discuss the dangers of rejecting immigrants for ideological reasons, something which Trump recommended doing under the name of "extreme vetting" but never actually carried out, below. Imposing an ideological test for admission to the US not only violates the right to free speech, but is often just an excuse for racial or religious discrimination.

However, before taking up that issue, it is also important to look at the question of hypocrisy. How well is America doing in terms of protecting the human rights of women when half the states of the US are reportedly ready to follow the lead of Texas in extinguishing women's reproductive rights - the right of control over their own bodies - if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?

As Americans, shouldn't we put our own "ideological" house in order before we consider barring immigrants from because of opinions that we might attribute to them because of their "cultural" background,i.e. race or religion?

Of course, I am not talking here about immigrants who may have actually done something that would violate the human rights of women, such as engaging in criminal violence.. We already have laws against admitting such people, so no ideological "vetting" is necessary for that.

What I am talking about here is barring people from the US because of their opinions, or worse, their presumed opinions based on their "cultural" background - which is just a euphemism for race, This is the real meaning of what Donald Trump proposed to do with his "extreme vetting", and it would put America on a slippery slope indeed for the survival of our democracy.

Or, to put it another way, imposing an ideological test on immigrants would open up a Pandora's box of fascist-style thought control.

See, vox.com (August 16, 2018)

Donald Trump's plan to subject immigrants to "ideological tests," explained

https://www.vox.com/2018/8/16/12491000/trump-extreme-vetting-test-immigrant

But the most objectionable aspect of all about imposing an ideological test is its racial implications. It would revive the false assumption that only white, European immigrants have "values" that are consistent with those that Americans believe in and uphold. This was the assumption that formed the basis of the recist 1924 "national origins" quota immigration law, not to mention the 1880's Chinese exclusion laws, about which I will have more to say in my next comment on on this topic.


To be continued in forthcoming posts.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard College A.B
Harvard College LL.B