Before I even had my Saturday morning coffee I received a text from a friend linking to a New York Times op-ed with the headline, “Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal.” As I ground beans, the wife of a prominent conservative friend posted on Facebook that she was “heartbroken” over the ban, and that she promised to donate to World Relief to help. As I took my first sip, I saw on Twitter that the Senate Minority Leader had lamented that “Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty.”

I put my phone away.

Driving into work on Monday morning I tuned in to Mike and Mike expecting sports; instead there was talk as to how “the Muslim ban” would impact NBA players. I got to work, turned on my computer. The first email I saw had this subject line: “What the Bible says about welcoming refugees.” I walked out and brewed a coffee. A colleague walked in and we discussed the Executive Order.

Did it really ban Muslims?

I’m certain it didn’t. Almost positive. Well, pretty sureI think.

It occurred to me that I had an embarrassing lack of knowledge as to the specifics on the matter. I decided I’d better read the executive order in full.

A full transcript of the order is available at the New York Times.  Here are its key components:

  • The order temporarily halts (120 days) admission of refugees. During this time, the vetting process will be reviewed. 
  • The order caps the number of refugees admitted annually at 50,000 (a figure in line with the average over the last 20 years).
  • The order temporarily bans (90 days) entry to the United States for people from the following countries: Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan.
  • The order indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.  
  • The word Muslim does not appear in the order; nor does the word Islam.

The specifics of the order differ from the bits of information I had gleaned the previous 48 hours. Here a few things to bear in mind:

The nations specified are either torn by civil war or are hotbeds of terrorism. The bans are almost exclusively temporary in nature (they do not differentiate between Christians and Muslims, as some had suggested to me).

Regarding Syria, the nation where the ban is not temporary, an indefinite embargo does not seem unreasonable in light of the fact that: 1) intelligence suggests that ISIS is using Syria’s refugee crisis to infiltrate Europe and the U.S; 2) the policy is not that far out of line with official U.S. policy the last six years.

The latter point comes from David French at National Review, who reminds us that the U.S. took in a total of 201 refugees from 2011 to 2014, a period in which millions were displaced:

The Syrian Civil War touched off in 2011. Here are the Syrian-refugee admissions to the U.S. until Obama decided to admit more than 13,000 in 2016:

Fiscal Year 2011: 29

Fiscal Year 2012: 31

Fiscal Year 2013: 36

Fiscal Year 2014: 105

Fiscal Year 2015: 1,682

The face of war is an ugly one. My heart goes out to the millions of people displaced by the conflicts we’ve witnessed in recent years. But it seems that many people are confusing righteous indignation with compassion and humanitarianism.

Now, as I wrote many months ago, there was a time when Middle Eastern nations welcomed Europeans into their own lands, when hundreds of thousands were displaced by the war machines of Stalin and Hitler. I believe the United States has a humanitarian obligation to assist refugees displaced by war; however, there are various ways to assist in this effort. We need to remember that a president’s primary obligation is not the safety of refugees; it’s the security of the American people.

Jon Miltimore is Senior Editor of Intectual Takeout. Follow him on Facebook.