Yesterday, President Trump finally scored his first victory in the courts after the Supreme Court upheld his travel ban, at least until it fully considers the order in October. But is the travel ban even necessary anymore?
This whole saga started on January 27 when Trump signed an executive order that suspended the entry of foreign nationals from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Iran for a 90 day period; allowed the US government to suspend its refugee admissions program for a period of 120 days; and set a cap on the refugees currently allowed to be admitted into the United States. The reason for this executive order, according to Trump, was to protect America’s national security by halting foreign migration as his administration reviewed visa processing and admissions procedures to streamline then and make them more effective in eliminating threats.
Liberals however took issue with this as some of the people caught up in the ban included legitimate Green Card holders and Iraqi translators who served US military forces in Iraq. The executive order was ultimately suspended by a federal court in the state of Washington and its decision was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on February 9. As a result, Trump promised a new executive order and issued it on March 6 with the clause that it would take effect on March 16. This new version was only different in that Iraq was taken off the list of countries whose citizens would be excluded from entry into the US.
However, the courts struck again and on March 15, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii struck down the executive order. And on June 13, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Watson’s decision. But yesterday, the US Supreme Court reversed those decisions by lifting the suspension on Trump’s executive order. It allowed all of its clauses to take effect with one exception, that Trump’s administration couldn’t ban anyone who has connections to the United States (i.e.: family ties, employment agreements, college acceptance, ect). This, however, isn’t the end of the issue as the Supreme Court said they would do a complete review of Trump’s proposal during their October session this year.
Opponents of Trump claimed his ban violated the First Amendment of the Constitution by discriminating against Muslims, a ridiculous argument because there are many Muslim nations not included in Trump’s travel ban such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. Opponents of Trump also drew connections to his campaign trail statements about Muslims and suggested that his rhetoric meant he had racist motives for his executive orders.
In the Supreme Court’s decision however, they brought up the fact that, traditionally, the judiciary gives the President a lot of leeway when dealing with national security concerns. A handful of jurists do not know all the threats facing our national security and aren’t privy to all our nation’s top-secret intelligence on possible terror threats. But in Trump’s case, some in the lower courts wanted to draw an exception and even claimed the ban was useless because no terrorist attack has been committed by any refugees in the US yet. The biggest problem with that logic is that the whole purpose of “defense” is to be preventative and not reactive.
But even though Trump has finally been vindicated for now, does he really need a travel ban? The original ban on travel from those “blacklisted countries” was set for 90 days and would’ve technically expired on April 27, 2017 if the courts hadn’t stopped it. When Trump issued his new travel ban, which should’ve taken effect on March 16, it would’ve expired on June 14, 2017. But to help the case go forward, Trump modified his executive order to now say the ban would take effect whenever the injunction against it was lifted by the courts. Thus, 90 days from yesterday now puts us at September 25, interestingly before the Supreme Court will even be able to deliberate on Trump’s ban.
Meanwhile, the 120 day ban on refugee admissions would’ve ended for Trump’s original order on May 27 and would be ending on July 14, according to his second version. Now, with the injunction on his order lifted, the refugee ban will be ended on October 24, likely on the tail end of the Supreme Court’s deliberations on Trump’s executive order. It is easy to forget the urgency first placed on this order when Trump issued it, yet six months later, it is just about to be finally implemented. This poses two problems.
First, there has been no major acts of terrorism committed by any refugees or foreign nationals in the United States since Trump proposed the ban in January, meaning if he had actually been successful, nothing would’ve been gained. And second, Trump’s Administration clearly said they needed 90 days and 120 days to get their refugee and vetting programs organized. However, it has been exactly six months since then and the Trump administration still seems intent on implementing its ban. But that begs the question of if his administration really is ready. They should’ve been ready by now according to their own estimates and if not, what does that say about them if they had a travel ban? Would they still be trying to develop some sort of vetting procedures?
But it seems that may already be done as the Trump administration has already developed a new comprehensive and thorough visa application while refugee admissions have been cut by half since Trump became President. Of course, then that begs the question of why we even need the travel ban anymore? This leaves the Trump Administration with the tricky choice of either admitting they failed to meet their own goals they set or admitting they already have done what they said they needed the travel ban for, and therefore have no reason to implement it.
If Trump’s administration doesn’t need the ban anymore, I wouldn’t blame them for thinking of the travel ban in the first place as hindsight is 20/20. Yes, nothing bad happened without the protection of the travel ban, but at the time it was proposed, no one could’ve predicted that. If we really have addressed the problems the ban was supposed to help with, then there is no need to implement a now-six month old proposal. So yes, Trump was right and the courts were wrong, but it’s time to move on and tackle other issues like securing our borders, repealing Obamacare, and making America great again.
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