The Wrong Way to Stop Terrorism

What the Data Show About Attacks and Immigration

People arriving at Logan Airport in Boston, January 2017.  Brian Snyder / REUTERS

On January 27, true to his campaign promise to suspend Muslim immigration, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting all immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States. By doing so, the Trump administration has taken a definite stance on what it holds as the threat posed by immigrants and refugees to U.S. security. As we argued in April 2016, however, democracies like the United States “are not opening their doors to terrorism when they let in Muslim immigrants.”

The order’s proponents, echoing Trump’s rhetoric during his presidential campaign, argue that the United States must avoid the kinds of attacks that Europe has suffered in recent years. But the United States is different from countries like France, where four men posing as Syrian refugees carried out a major attack in November 2015, because those with

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