President Donald J. Trump today issued Muslim ban 2.0. The new executive order was released with little fanfare and without Trump present. Perhaps he didn’t want to answer questions about it because the new policy is just as bad as the one it replaces.
As a candidate, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” In office, he has pursued the exclusion of as many Muslims as he thinks the law might allow.
Trump’s first attempt to do so was met by public outcry. It violates religious freedom by singling out one group, Muslims, for discrimination based on how they worship. That's unconstitutional and un-American -- and that's why AU is fighting it in court by filing briefs. The policy was stopped in its tracks by the courts, which found that the directive likely violated several provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
Trump's new Muslim ban is just as bad as the first one.
Rather than taking the courts’ cues that immigrants and travelers to the United States should be assessed individually, rather than banned categorically, the administration has renewed its attempt to ban as many Muslims as it can, exempting only those whose legal status is already firmly established in the United States or who have already secured visas to travel or immigrate. Everybody else from the affected countries must stay out, at least for the next 90 days.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is being ordered to do a worldwide review to determine which foreign countries fail to provide adequate information for U.S. authorities to adjudicate visa and admission applications – and to report the results to the president 20 days from the signing of the order.
This seems like exactly the type of information the president should have requested before he banned visitors and immigrants from any country. In fact, the secretary of DHS was supposed to submit such report within 30 days of the last order, which time has now expired. It appears that the administration is bound and determined to ban first and ask questions later.
Indeed, a leaked draft report by DHS indicates that it reached the conclusion that the blanket ban on travel from the affected countries would not serve the counterterrorism goals asserted in the executive order. No wonder DHS did not take questions today!
Ignoring that draft report, the order instead pointed to the following “recent history” of entrants to the U.S. that proved to be threats to national security. The order asserts that the attorney general has reported that "more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations. Yet the order provide no information about those persons’ countries of origin, or what exactly is meant by the term “subjects of investigations” in the context of this order.
The executive order does give two specific examples, both of them unconvincing. First, the order cites two Iraqi nationals admitted to the United States as refugees, but Iraq is now exempt from the travel ban, while six other countries remain.
In addition, the order points to the conviction in 2014 of a native of Somalia who came to the United States years earlier as a child refugee. This example demonstrates that the administration sees all Muslims as fundamentally suspect and dangerous. Rather than careful vetting, the administration plans to profile people based on nothing more than their ethnic and religious background – an unconstitutional and ineffective practice.
Americans United has joined states, companies, organizations and coalition partners to fight a Muslim ban executive order – so far, successfully. We will continue that fight against this second order so that Americans, and those who travel to be with them, can count on admission to the United States based on who these travelers and immigrants actually are, not how they are labeled.