President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, expected to be released later this week, reportedly will be an improvement over his failed first effort, but it’s still shaping up as an indefensible form of religious discrimination.
Travelers from Iraq are no longer expected to be subject to a blanket ban on entering the United States, most likely because of pressure from Trump foreign policy advisers who realized the glaring incongruity of banning travelers from a nation we call an ally in the fight against the Islamic State. Iraqi lawmakers, understandably, had called for banning American travelers to retaliate.
But the new executive order reportedly still will ban travelers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days.
Why those particular countries? Except that they are predominantly Muslim — and places where Trump has no business interests — there is no rhyme or reason. But Trump made it clear as a candidate for president, as did his most influential advisers, that he wants to slow to a trickle the flow of Muslim immigrants. The courts will no doubt consider that agenda when sizing up what Trump’s really up to now.
Last month, a federal court issued a temporary injunction to block Trump’s original travel ban. An appeals court refused to reinstate it. Before the courts acted, airports around the world were thrown into turmoil as people with valid documents were detained at U.S. airports or barred from getting on planes overseas. Protesters turned out in large numbers.
Under the new executive order, according to reports, legal permanent residents who hold green cards no longer will be banned. People with valid visas also will be in the clear. Syrian refugees no longer will face an indefinite ban. Earlier language favoring members of some religions will be stricken. And the ban won’t go into effect instantly, giving those responsible for implementing it time to prepare.
The vetting process for refugees, which takes two years, is considered robust, but if Trump has a way to make it more fail-safe, that’s appropriate. Have at it.
But to the extent that the Trump administration is simply up to already old tricks, trying to slam shut the door on members of an entire religious group, his order will continue to be unconstitutional.
At its best, America does not turn away innocent victims of war and persecution. Our nation vets them fully, of course, and we make every effort to help them assimilate smoothly. We do not stoop to religious tests, spoken or implied.
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