Editorial: New executive order better, still a bad idea

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

President Trump’s second attempt to block entry to the United States from certain largely Muslim nations is a major improvement over his first. It is, however, still offensive to core American values and still a solution in search of a problem.

Gone are some of the blatant excesses of Trump’s initial executive order, struck down by federal courts. He does not now exclude holders of valid green cards and previously issued visas. The number of countries whose citizens were banned is now six instead of seven. The blanket ban that was core to the first order is softened. And it no longer puts an explicit religious test on refugees.

These are improvements. They also, as noted by the FiveThirtyEight website’s analysis, undercut the rationale offered for the first order. For example: The legal justification for the seven was they were the nations listed by the Obama administration as “countries of concern.” Removing Iraq for geopolitical reasons (the war against the Islamic State) undermines that argument.

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But the president has never had a factual basis for his obsession with immigration from Muslim nations. Few people from the six (or seven) nations on Trump’s list have attempted attacks in the United States. Most of those convicted or killed attempting such attacks were U.S.-born citizens.

That’s a fact. The intelligent inference to be drawn from that fact is that banning travel from the six remaining nations under Trump’s ban (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen) does nothing to enhance national security. The further inference is that Trump’s ban bolsters the extremist argument that the United States is at war with Islam itself.

The new order will certainly face court challenges, and may well fall to those challenges, as the first one did. But even if it survives constitutional scrutiny, it’s still lousy policy. Trump would have done better to let the matter lie.

— Mankato Free Press, March 10