A judge in Hawaii froze the Trump administration’s revised travel ban on Wednesday night, hours before it would have gone into effect, and we applaud that decision. (A second judge did the same Thursday morning.)
That’s because even after the revisions, the proposed ban on travel from six predominantly Muslim countries would still make life easier for terrorist recruiters and more difficult for the Muslim allies whose help we need to head off terror attacks.
In blocking those from Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Syria and keeping out refugees for at least 120 days, the ban would punish those fleeing violence amid what the United Nations is calling the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.
Refugees already go through intensive screening that lasts an average of 18 to 24 months.
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If discrimination against Muslims was not the intent, it would still be the effect: “If you were trying to ban Muslims,” a lawyer for the ACLU told U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang at a hearing in Maryland on Wednesday, “banning refugees would be one compelling way to do it.”
Chuang “noted the polarization in the case,” the Washington Post reported, “weighing the safety of refugees against Trump’s stated fears for security at home. ‘Is there somewhere in between?' the judge asked.”
But there is no need to locate that land-of-in-between because those stated fears for security at home are not backed up by evidence.
On the contrary, two leaked Department of Homeland Security documents argue otherwise.
One says that “we assess that most foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns.” Another draft document concludes that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.”
In response to the obvious point that we have never been attacked by anyone from any of the six countries on the banned list, but have been attacked by people from countries not on the list, the government has cited a Somali refugee convicted of a planned attack on an Oregon Christmas-tree lighting ceremony.
But since that refugee had been in this country almost all of his life, his case is just another instance of someone who was radicalized here. No evidence has been offered for the government claim that the FBI is looking into possible terror threats posed by 300 other refugees.
Besides Hawaii’s argument that it would hurt that state’s tourism industry and ability to recruit top talent, another challenge came from 58 tech companies that said it would harm their businesses, too.
If the intent of the revised ban is to convince the world that we are at war with Islam, then it is perfectly crafted. But we are not, and suggestions to the contrary are dangerously apt to become self-fulfilling.