Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Trump's Travel Ban Tweetstorm

In the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London, President Trump fired several barrages on Twitter. The targets of the presidential fusillades ranged from the mayor of London to political correctness in general, but the president seemed most intently focused on  the American courts that have repeatedly blocked his travel ban from going into effect.

Trump’s first tweet in response to the attack, posted at 7:17 p.m. on June 3, was a call for “the courts to give us back our rights.” Trump added, “We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

At that point, there was no indication of who the attackers were or where they came from. By Monday, British authorities had identified the terrorists as homegrown radicals. As such, a travel ban would have had no impact on their ability to carry out the attack. Rather than an immigration problem, the story of the London attack, like the recent Manchester bombing, seems to be the familiar one of local Muslims becoming radicalized at local mosques or by listening to radical imams on the internet.

Trump again called for a travel ban beginning at 6:25 a.m. on June 5 even though there seems to be no connection between first-generation immigration and the stabbing attacks over the weekend. People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want,” the president tweeted, “but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” This is an apparent reference to judges who ruled against the Executive Order based on Trump’s campaign promise to enact a ban on Muslim immigration.

“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C. [Supreme Court]” Trump continued a few minutes later. A third tweet on the subject said, “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down [sic] Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!”

Trump’s twitter tirade ended with the statement, “In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!”

One problem with President Trump’s single-minded focus on the travel ban is that most recent terror attacks have been carried out by Muslims who were native born citizens of their countries. This is true for attacks in the United States as well as Europe. A temporary travel ban is not a viable solution to the problem of radicalization within the communities of Muslims who are already legal residents or citizens. It is impossible to go back in time to ban the immigration of parents of future terrorists. We must deal with the problem of radicals as it exists today.

Second, the effectiveness of the travel ban is doubtful to begin with. A Department of Homeland Security report obtained by the Washington Post said that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” The report also noted that citizens of the countries singled out in the ban had rarely been implicated in terrorist attacks in the US and that the US issues very few visas to citizens of the affected countries.

Finally, the Executive Order implementing the travel ban specified a 90-day suspension for six countries and a suspension of the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. Since the Trump Administration has been in office for almost five months, the rationale for reinstating the temporary ban seems less credible as time goes on.

It increasingly seems as though the travel ban is a right-wing example of a liberal trope, the feel-good policy that doesn’t actually accomplish anything. As The Values Voter observed on Twitter, “The #travelban is to the right what gun bans are to the left. An emotional response. Not an actual solution to a problem.”

This makes it all the more ironic that the president would call out the left’s reflexive calls for gun control after any violent attack with another post-London tweet. By not waiting for the facts – and then ignoring them – to advance his own agenda, President Trump committed the same error and looked just as petty as the gun control advocates on the left.

It’s also ironic that the president may be hurting his own policy with his incessant tweeting. By linking the current travel ban to his original Executive Order and his campaign promise for a Muslim ban, Trump is making it more difficult for Justice Department lawyers to make the case that the policy is based on national security needs. Constitutional lawyer Neal Katyal got the last word with a tweet thanking the president for his help in proving the plaintiff’s case in the lawsuit against the travel ban.

“Its kinda [sic] odd to have the defendant in HawaiivTrump [sic] acting as our co-counsel,” Katyal said. “We don't need the help but will take it!”

Originally published on The Resurgent

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