Analysis: Travel ban shrunk in scope
Washington — With President Donald Trump’s travel ban on the verge of taking effect Thursday, the White House was declaring a victory on the first major policy push of his presidency. But it could not have been the win Trump imagined.
What was once described as a blanket ban on Muslims, then became a temporary ban on visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries, is now a list of confusing new visa restrictions.
All but lost in the five-month editing process and court fight is the president’s stated aim: keeping dangerous people out of the U.S. Trump billed the temporary ban on visitors from certain countries and refugees as an urgent and necessary tool to keep out would-be terrorists while the government crafted new “extreme vetting” procedures.
But five months and no ban later, the administration has made little effort to build a stronger case and offered scant new evidence to back up its claims.
The restrictions that will take effect Thursday, reinstated temporarily by Supreme Court, are a far cry from Trump’s initial executive order, which sparked protests, chaos at airports and legal challenges in his administration’s earliest days.
The justices’ ruling exempts people if they can prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity. Under State Department guidelines, visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries will need to show close family or business ties to the United States for the next 90 days.
Citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States could be allowed to enter.
Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid, formal invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. are exempt from the ban.
The same requirements, with some exceptions, will apply to refugees from all nations who are still awaiting approval for the next 120 days.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, only one of five administration officials couched the Supreme Court order as a step that will have a marked impact on improving national security. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity despite describing a public executive order.
The White House sees the Supreme Court decision as a temporary measure, and is confident it will win on the merits when the court hears the case later this year.
It remains unclear whether the original ban would have improved security. Experts have warned that the proposal alienated moderate Muslims and turned off allies the U.S. relies on to fight extremist groups.