Travel ban’s back, and still bad

Trump’s so­lu­tion in search of a prob­lem won’t pro­tect U.S. But it will pro­vide fod­der for Is­lamists.

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

From the be­gin­ning, Pres­i­dent Trump’s ar­gu­ments de­fend­ing his ban on travel to the U.S. by peo­ple from first seven, now six, pre­dom­i­nately Mus­lim coun­tries have rung hol­low. The ban — is­sued days af­ter he took of­fice, then re­vised in March af­ter the courts ruled against him — re­mains a shame­ful so­lu­tion in search of a prob­lem, and the lower courts were right to freeze it bar­ring a full court re­view.

The de­ci­sion by the Supreme Court on Mon­day to let some of the ban go into ef­fect even be­fore the court de­cides the mer­its of the le­gal chal­lenges is dis­ap­point­ing, es­pe­cially for refugees seek­ing sanc­tu­ary from war and up­heaval. But it also sets the stage for what could be a sig­nif­i­cant rul­ing on whether the pres­i­dent ex­ceeded his author­ity in or­der­ing the ban.

In par­tially lift­ing in­junc­tions is­sued by judges in Mary­land, Wash­ing­ton state and Hawaii, the Supreme Court in ef­fect split the baby. Peo­ple from Iran, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men may be de­nied en­try for 90 days, and refugees from any coun­try can be de­nied en­try for 120 days, while the gov­ern­ment re­thinks its screen­ing and vet­ting pro­ce­dures. But if the ap­pli­cants have a cred­i­ble con­nec­tion with the United States — such as a rel­a­tive liv­ing here, a job of­fer or ac­cep­tance into a univer­sity — they would not be pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing the coun­try.

The pres­i­dent and his sur­ro­gates have ar­gued that the ban is nec­es­sary to pro­tect the U.S. from ter­ror­ists. Yet no one from the six af­fected coun­tries has killed any­one in a ter­ror­ist at­tack on U.S. soil since 1975, ac­cord­ing to the Cato In­sti­tute. Sim­i­larly, the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute re­ported in 2015 that in the first 14 years af­ter the Sept. 11 at­tacks, only three of the 784,000 refugees re­set­tled in the U.S. were con­victed of ter­ror­ism-re­lated charges — two for plot­ting against an over­seas tar­get and the third for hatch­ing “plans that were barely cred­i­ble.”

So what prob­lem is Trump try­ing to solve here? Bar­ring im­mi­grants on the ba­sis of re­li­gion or na­tion­al­ity with­out ev­i­dence that there is a prob­lem is un­rea­son­able and, in this case, will pro­vide fod­der for rad­i­cal Is­lamists ar­gu­ing that the U.S. is an en­emy of their faith. Rather than solv­ing any­thing, Trump’s show­boat­ing ban just feeds xeno­pho­bia and in­tol­er­ance.

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