Here’s Why Trump Won’t Back Down On the Travel Ban

September 29, 2017

Here’s Why Trump Won’t Back Down On the Travel Ban mark reinstein /

President Donald Trump’s so-called “travel ban” has always been about keeping the U.S. safe. The series of executive orders have had everything to do with the proper vetting of entrants — and nothing to do with Islam.

On Sept. 24, the White House expanded the executive order to target eight countries — including Venezuela, Chad, and North Korea — until these terrorist havens can meet the Department of Homeland Security’s explicit and personalized standards for screening travelers.

The latest rendition of the travel ban should finally assure Americans that the president is concerned with making America a safer place, rather than persecuting Muslims. And that’s why he never gave up, despite the best efforts of the left to destroy, obstruct and overrule the law.

It’s been a long fight, but Trump is winning.

The Muslim sham

Although in 2015 Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” until improved vetting procedures were put in place, the president and his staff have since consistently assured Americans that the travel restrictions are not meant to target Muslims.

Like any political policy, a candidate’s initial proposal is dramatically altered by the time their rhetoric becomes a law.

Yet, for partisan purposes, the media has failed to let go of the “Muslim ban” terminology. While Trump insisted that the ban was territorial and not religious in nature, liberal media outlets like The Washington Post fed into rumors that there would be some form of religious test for immigrants, quoting conservatives completely dissociated with the president.

The media was aided in their efforts to discredit Trump by progressive activist judges who sought to legislate from the bench.

Trump’s first attempt at the travel ban was shut down by successive district courts, and ultimately U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle placed an injunction on the executive order, claiming that Washington state “met its burden in demonstrating immediate and irreparable injury.”

The “irreparable injury” that Washington and other states would later cite was described as the inability of universities to take in foreign students from the list of eight banned countries.

Washington only had 173 students from these countries at the time of Trump’s ban, leading some observers to wonder how a temporary, 90-day ban would cause serious damage to Washington’s economy.

Travel Ban 2.0

Determined to make America safer, Trump revised his ban by excluding Iraq and officially proclaiming that current visa-holders would be unaffected by the order. Perhaps most significantly, though, Trump was compelled to scrap a subsection which “prioritize[d] refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

Since the White House threw out this important piece of the order, thousands of Christian minorities throughout the world have been killed by religiously motivated acts of genocide.

Muslims in Myanmar could have been given priority refugee status, as well as Christian Copts slain by terrorist attacks in Egypt, and Yazidis murdered by ISIS in Iraq. Unfortunately, Trump was forced to strike all references to religion from the second travel ban to satisfy activist judges accusing him of Muslim persecution.

A single liberal magistrate succeeded in undoing the second travel ban. Hawaii District Judge Derrick Watson ultimately said that Trump’s statements on the campaign trail could be interpreted to mean that the travel ban was, in fact, nothing more than a Muslim ban.

Not only did Watson put a stay on the executive order’s temporary travel restrictions, but the judge went further by keeping DHS from moving forward with their vetting review of the seven listed countries. The entire purpose of the 90-day travel restrictions was to allow DHS to perform this screening review.

When Watson stopped the government from working on extreme vetting while the executive order was held up in litigation, he effectively guaranteed that the 90-day ban would have to be reinstated later.

The Supreme Court steps in

Fortunately, the Supreme Court stepped in to reverse Watson’s over-broad holdings. The enjoinder on the travel ban and extreme vetting was lifted, allowing DHS and customs agents to get back to the valuable work of reinforcing America’s borders.

The court ruled unanimously that Watson had no business in interpreting Trump’s statements from the campaign trail; a judge can only look at the written language of a law or provision and not speculate on how it will be enforced.

However, Watson was not done obstructing Trump’s efforts to improve security. He later issued a holding that allowed anyone from the banned countries with a relative in America, including grandparents and cousins, to enter the U.S.

The Supreme Court upheld this ruling in a split decision, severely watering down the travel ban.

Although the Supreme Court was supposed to revisit the travel ban in October, Trump’s recent expansion of the bill has compelled the highest court in the land to cancel these proceedings.

Both sides of the issue have been asked to “file letter briefs addressing whether, or to what extent, the proclamation issued on Sept. 24, may render cases No. 16-1436 and 16-1540 moot,” the court said in its order.

Travel Ban 3.0

The indefinite travel ban leaves Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia on the list of Muslim-majority countries previously identified by the Trump administration as possessing an organic terrorist threat.

Chad, with a 53 percent Muslim-majority country, joins Venezuela and North Korea as countries identified from an international review of screening procedures.

The latest manifestation of Trump’s mission to improve America’s security should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the White House’s stated goals.

Trump’s March executive order, the second of its kind, promised to conduct a review of worldwide vetting standards and ban negligent countries based upon the results.

The order stated:

The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall conduct a worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for a visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat.  The Secretary of Homeland Security may conclude that certain information is needed from particular countries even if it is not needed from every country.

In addition to determining if a given country had adequate screening measures of their own citizens in place, the Department of Homeland Security also conducted a risk assessment to determine if a country presented a significant terrorist threat. Travel ban 3.0 explains how a country ends up on the list:

Through this assessment, the agencies measured each country’s performance with respect to issuing reliable travel documents and implementing adequate identity-management and information-sharing protocols and procedures, and evaluated terrorism-related and public-safety risks associated with foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States from each country.

America is already safer with this assessment. The latest executive order explains how 29 nations provided U.S. authorities with “travel document exemplars for use by Department of Homeland Security [DHS] officials to combat fraud.” Additionally, 11 countries improved the way that they share information on “known or suspected terrorists” with American security agencies.  

The duration of the ban depends entirely upon the ability or desire of named countries to comply with their security shortcomings. After 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter, DHS personnel will reassess each banned nation to determine if improvements have been made to security and information-sharing protocols.

Expansion and improvement

While opponents of the latest version of the travel ban argue that Trump has included non-Muslim countries simply to hide his animus for Islam and protect the orders from litigation, the truth is that the White House has always been concerned with improving intelligence sharing and vetting standards across the world.

Throughout the entire travel ban saga, Trump hasn’t wavered from his vision. Despite the best efforts of the media, celebrities, and activist judges to obstruct, he didn’t give up.

When 38 percent of the countries listed on the latest travel ban include significant non-Muslim populations, the Left can no longer hurl accusations of bigotry at the president.

Unfortunately, this will not keep progressives from trying to frame the president as a xenophobe. Nor will the latest revisions keep activist judges from making politicized decisions that compromise America’s security.

Nobody ever said making America great again would be an easy task.

Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is a regular contributor at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Yahoo News.