Editorial: New travel ban still pointless attempt at fear mongering
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President Donald Trump signed into law Monday a revised travel ban without some of the provisions that made the administration’s first ban the target of legal questioning.
This time instead of seven predominantly Muslim countries, the ban focuses on six, casting out Iraq which was apparently less safe a month ago than it is today (reportedly, top defense officials convinced Trump to remove Iraq because of the country’s contributions to the fight against the Islamic State, according to The Associated Press).
In addition, the new ban disposes of a stipulation that would give preference to religious minorities — largely Christian in the seven originally proposed countries — which some argued constituted a religious test. And instead of an indefinite bar on Syrian refugees, the White House has proposed a 120-day ban, “requiring review and renewal,” according to The New York Times.
Lastly, instead of an overnight rollout as the Trump administration attempted and largely failed at with their first order, the new travel ban will be enacted over a two-week period.
The first travel ban — widely referred to as a “Muslim ban” for its targeting of seven predominantly Muslim countries, as well as Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” among other comments, during the campaign — was signed Jan. 27 before a federal judge in New York issued a stay on the order the next day. The stay was subsequently maintained by the 9th Circuit, who disagreed that the ban was justified for matters of national security.
While Trump originally vowed to take the travel ban to the Supreme Court, the administration voiced their intention to rewrite the order in the weeks since the 9th Circuit’s ruling.
But even with the potential legal gaps sealed, the order still represents a pointless attempt at fear mongering that will do little to aid in national security. No immigrants from the countries listed in the president’s ban — now Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya — have been responsible for domestic terrorist attacks since at least 1975, according to the conservative CATO Institute. And according to The New York Times, Muslim extremists have only accounted for 16 out of 240,000 in the United States since 9/11.
With this in mind, it begs the question: What’s the point in doubling down on a failed executive order and, once again, muddying the waters of an administration that is still struggling to maintain a solid message for more than two or three days?
Unsure? It doesn’t appear the Trump administration knows, either. In fact, the new ban was enacted with significantly less splendor than the original. Trump signed the executive order in private and Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not speak to the press during an on-camera briefing Monday, according to The Associated Press. Instead, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the new order.
This could be because the president is juggling quite a bit at the moment. Trump is still grappling with his Saturday accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, despite providing no evidence to support his claim (and if evidence is provided, it could ironically be more damaging for Trump than Obama). Russia also continues to dog the administration, with recent reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with a Russian ambassador twice — despite saying otherwise during his congressional hearing — squandering the positivity Trump was receiving in the short period following his first congressional address.
But it’s still suspect that an order gladly touted in front of the press just over a month ago is now seemingly on the back burner for the new president. It remains to be seen whether the legality of the order will be questioned but, if the 9th Circuit’s original ruling is any indication, cleaning up the wording of a few provisions may not be enough. This could mean the White House may need to indicate a national security risk to justify the ban, which isn’t any more likely this month than it was last month.
And again, bans such as these represent the antithesis of American values. America is a country that accepts “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We are not a country of isolation, fear and ignorance. Even if Trump’s new travel ban doesn’t crumble under legal scrutiny, America’s devotion to inclusion and diversity will still remain.