Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fact-Checking the GOP: No, Jimmy Carter Did NOT Deport All Iranian Students During Hostage Crisis

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter went on a Twitter rampage yesterday in defense of Donald Trump's call to close our borders to all Muslims--even Islam-following U.S. citizens currently traveling abroad.  (Addendum: Mr. Trump changed his position, saying that, as of now, he would allow Muslims who are American citizens to cross our borders.  How magnanimous.) 

The Statements

"My best birthday gift! Donald Trump Calls For 'Complete Shutdown' of Muslim Entry to U.S."

"Now MSNBC is interviewing GOP 'lawyer' misstating the Constitution.  CLAIMS ALL CONSTITUTIONAL RTS APPLY TO FOREIGNERS. Who is this retard?"

"President Carter ordered Iranian students deported after hostages seized in Tehran."

The Facts

During the Iranian hostage crisis, then-President Jimmy Carter ordered that the immigration status of all Iranian students be examined.  He wanted all students here illegally on expired student visas sent back to their home country.

Many of the Iranian students feared prosecution if they were sent back to Iran.  The Justice Department openly acknowledged this and told President Carter that, according to our Constitution,--the document discussed on MSNBC by a GOP attorney whom Ms. Coulter so politely referred to as a "retard"--these illegal students were still entitled to due process under our laws.  Nobody could or would be summarily thrown out of the country.  Appeals and hearings were necessary.

Following due process, those students genuinely fearful of being returned to Iran were granted political asylum in the U.S. and became permanent residents.

m'eye Verdict

Ms. Coulter, as she so often is, seems to be a bit hazy on her facts.  Jimmy Carter never ordered the wholesale deportation of Iranian students.  He never advocated for closing our borders and he never refused asylum.    

President Carter did order that all Iranian student visas be examined.  He did want all Iranian students here illegally sent home; but he never tried to override our Constitution's call for due process for everyone on U.S. soil.

Saying Carter's actions were the same as Trump's latest No Muslims Allowed proposal is like saying a tuna and an alpaca are the same because they both have eyes.

In the end, if we accept Ms. Coulter's penchant for cherry-picking facts to back up her own personal prejudices, it is easy to see how she mistook "examine visas" with "close our borders;" but I still give her 3 out of 5 Gops for this rant.  I added the 4th one for her thinking that our Constitution only applies to those blessed with U.S. citizenship.  Anyone this dumb deserves a bonus.

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