It's been an interesting week and a half, with developments in the new Trump administration coming fast and furious, almost a fire-hose worth of material each day, drowning a would-be pundit with stuff to digest.
This weekend, Trump was fast with a ban on entry from seven problematic Muslim-dominated countries, and his critics were furious. One of the poster girls for the situation was an Iranian college student at Harvard with a valid visa getting here just after the new rules kicked in. On the sports page, Sudanese-Aussie hoopster Thon Maker and Somali-Brit track star Mo Farah begged the question of whether dual-citizens from the Maleficent Seven (someone beat me to that one) would have issues with the new rules.
The media is always quick to have such awww-inspiring counter-examples of a winsome immigrant proving the stereotype wrong, but for every Maker, Luol Deng, and Farah, you can also point to folks like the wife of the San Bernadino jihadi couple who could have used a Trumpian "extreme vetting" to catch her online sympathies before she got let into the country and acted on them.
Is this freeze good policy? Only if your goal is to keep people who might turn out to be jihadis from getting into the country... and you don't mind the collateral damage it does to both the people you're barring and to the US.
Doing a more-complete job of checking the background of folks from jihadi breeding grounds does make sense. I'd want to check with immigration officials to see how many wannabe terrorists we could catch with, for example, an extra half-hour giving Google a once-over to see what the would-be immigrant is up to, and passing on ones that seem to be more likely to be problematic. The Obama team might have been reticent of giving Muslims that white-glove treatment for fear of looking xenophobic and anti-Muslim, but the Trump team seems to be overreacting in the other direction.
We can be saving lives by getting people out of harm's way; minorities in the Middle East have a tendency to be victimized, especially in a civil-war setting where raping and pillaging The Other is part of the script. You might save the next San Bernadino from happening, but you might also see the refuseniks killed off if they fall into the wrong hands; the tear-jerking counter argument posited over the weekend was of European Jews in the leadup to WWII, who could have been spared a trip to a concentration death camp if we let them in.
However, those people can't vote in US elections, let alone vote Republican, while a nativist take against immigrants in general and Muslim immigrants in particular sells rather nicely; it was one of the selling points that got Trump the nomination. Unsavory, yes, but it's not like we weren't warned; Trump seems to be going down his checklist of campaign promises and this was on it.
The courts have ruled against a number of the policy changes, and on the visa front, Trump seems to have overstepped his authority by unilaterally erasing green cards counter to immigration law based on merely being from the wrong country.
There seems to be a callousness there, a trait that had me casting a protest vote back in November rather than holding my nose and voting for Trump. These would-be refugees are part of Them rather than Us to a nativist, and thus don't count nearly as much as a born-and-raised American. The dark side of America First is an implicit "...and the rest of the world can go bleep themselves"; that seems to felt in this move.