Travel ban: Will second attempt pass muster?
“For President Trump and his travel ban, the second time may be the charm,” said Jeffrey Toobin in CNN.com. A month after a federal judge suspended Trump’s controversial executive order on refugees and immigrants, the president this week signed a revised version that “addresses many of the legal problems.” The new order, which takes effect on March 16, will reinstate the 90-day travel ban on immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries, and keeps in place the original 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program—although Syrians are no longer indefinitely excluded. Iraq, a U.S. ally infuriated by the initial travel ban, has been dropped from the prohibited list, leaving Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Those with green cards and visas when the ban comes into effect will be exempt. And since it eliminated a preference for Christian refugees, the new order does not mention religion—making it harder for opponents to claim it’s a Muslim ban.
The revised ban is exactly “what the White House should have done from the beginning,” said NationalReview.com in an editorial. With its “broad legal language” and chaotic rollout, the original needlessly distracted from the ban’s “legitimate aim” of strengthening vetting proce-dures. Sorry, but the revisions only prove just how “arbitrary” this travel ban is, said Max Boot in CommentaryMagazine.com. “Has Iraq suddenly become less of a terrorist threat?” Is Trump no longer worried about the “bad dudes” he claimed would pour into the country if he gave advance notice of his executive order? And if this travel ban really is about national security—and not a publicity stunt—why did the president delay it another week to avoid overshadowing coverage of his joint address to Congress?
The new executive order “remedies multiple legal infirmities,” said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. But it still doesn’t provide any evidence that immigrants from the six countries named have committed acts of terrorism in the U.S. or pose a greater threat than anyone else. More importantly, the ban’s legal challengers will still be able to cite ample evidence that the ban was motivated by anti-Muslim animus—which would make it unconstitutional. Trump repeatedly called for a “Muslim ban” during the campaign, and his surrogate Rudy Giuliani said the goal was to find a way to ban Muslims “legally.” Will that be enough to convince judges Trump’s intent was discriminatory? That’s the question “the courts must soon hash out.”