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President Trump’s new travel ban still betrays American ideals

President Donald Trump signed a new travel ban

President Donald Trump signed a new travel ban on March 6, 2017. Above, Trump signs an executive order temporarily barring travel from seven Muslim-majority nations on Jan. 27, 2017. Credit: Reuters / Carlos Barria

To say the Trump administration’s second attempt at a travel ban executive order was better than its first is to say that it cleared a very low bar. It would be virtually impossible not to improve on a document as poorly written and a rollout as badly botched as the first, which created chaos and was delayed and suspended by multiple federal judges.

The new executive order signed Monday by President Donald Trump got more things right and left some things very wrong, but still failed to make the case for why it was needed in the first place.

But more ominous than any one provision is the discomfiting fear that the order betrays our national values and diminishes our moral standing. By casting refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority nations primarily as potential terrorists and ignoring the reality that many are fleeing terrorism or war, Trump has poisoned the well in a way that could be difficult to reverse.

The careless labeling of whole swathes of people based on their religion makes possible more discrimination at home, more ill will and more acts of violence like the recent shootings of Sikhs and Indians apparently mistaken for Muslims by their attackers. Yes, Trump is correct that the nation must protect itself from terrorism, but neither executive order addressed the largest source of terrorism in America — homegrown terrorists, some citizens, most radicalized after years of living here.

There also is a dark and dangerous current underlying the orders. They aren’t simply a Trump campaign talking point. They also stem from the philosophy of chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who says the country must return to its European and Christian heritage. The vision of America he articulated recently as a “nation with a culture and a reason for being” does not include the cultural or religious diversity embodied by Muslims or, for that matter, many other immigrants. That vision, and any policies that work to make it reality, must be rejected.

The new executive order is right to exempt holders of green cards and valid visas as well as dual citizens, who were already vetted. It wisely removed Iraq from the list of nations whose citizens are temporarily banned from coming here, after the U.S. military and members of Congress noted the many Iraqis who risked their lives helping U.S. troops as translators and in other capacities. And the 10-day delay on its implementation should allow for better coordination with agencies, departments and others involved to avoid the turmoil created by the first order. But it still did not provide any statistical proof that refugees and immigrants from the six named countries present a real danger, it did not acknowledge that vetting already is strong, and it still might not escape the first order’s original sin — that Trump wanted a Muslim ban, which the courts have said is unconstitutional.

Most important, vigilance about our borders and security must be matched by vigilance about irrational suspicion and hatred being fomented within those borders. We all should comfort those suffering from the lashes of ignorance, and tell our children that these ugly acts do not reflect the values of acceptance and tolerance that America is supposed to represent. — The editorial board


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