A Deeper Look at the New Travel Ban

Jazeera Airways airplane boarding at the Kuwait International Airport. December 12, 2014 in Kuwait City, Middle East

A new travel ban has been signed into order. The critics are once again up in arms, but if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice something important. The judge who stopped the first ban has made no move to stop this one. It is in effect, and it is unlikely to meet interference.

Details of the New Ban

While the spirit of the new executive order is in line with the original, it underwent significant changes. The first item of note is the list of countries. Iraq has been completely dropped from the ban altogether, decreasing the total number of barred countries from seven to six.

The next major change is the duration of the ban. There will no longer be permanent blocks of any kind. Instead, the sweeping suspension is only for 90 days, with an extended 120-day block for some refugees. This is a big departure from the previous order that permanently banned Syrian refugees altogether.

Perhaps most importantly, the language that protected religious minorities has been scrubbed from the new order. We’ll get into more detail about this in a minute. Finally, the new ban makes room for a vast increase in exemptions and ways to achieve an exemption. Those are the major changes, but now we’ll ask the important question: why were these specific changes made?

The Reasoning

Let’s look at each item individually, starting with the list of countries. Iraq was dropped from the ban, and no other country replaced it. The rationale is straightforward. Minds at the Pentagon believed that banning travel from Iraq strained the joint effort our two countries are putting towards the fight against ISIS. They lobbied the president and he acquiesced.

Changing the duration of the ban is a little more convoluted. The minimum 90-day restriction still holds with the original order’s purpose. It buys the country time to audit the vetting process and ensure proper security measures are in place.

On the surface, it may look like Trump caved on his position with refugees, but this is likely a planned compromise. The left feels like they have scored a victory in this regard, but Trump has still cut our refugee commitment severely. Obama promised that we would take in 110,000 new refugees a year, and Trump slashed that number back down to the traditional figure of 50,000. He is keeping to his promises, but in a way that adheres to his art of the deal.

Religion was the big change. The Obama Administration used veiled tactics to discriminate against minority religions in the listed countries, especially Syria. Trump wanted to correct that action, but the language protecting religious minorities is what was used to kill the first order. This language had to be dropped in order for any travel pause to get through federal courts.

Trump still took a few lines in the new order to explain our commitment to protecting religious minorities, but in terms of this ban, it’s an empty promise. Reviewing the admission process will be the only way to prevent religious discrimination.

Finally, we come to the exemptions. This takes up a significant portion of the new bill, and it’s a jumbled mess. Trump originally tried to simplify the process and make the whole deal more transparent, but the government is still entrenched in bureaucracy. The new ban no longer bars entry to Green Card holders and a number of travelers with previously approved documentation.

It also leaves a number of ways for new applicants to be exempt from the ban. Multiple offices are allowed to provide exemption on a case-by-case basis, making room for thousands of travelers to ignore the new ban. While this sounds like a security flaw, it comes with considerable accountability, and it was primarily included to fix another Obama Administration problem.

Under Obama’s travel ban, many foreign nationals who risked their lives in cooperation with our military efforts were stranded in hostile territory. Trump’s ban makes it easy for the appropriate officials to fast track immigration for these individuals.

Summing it Up

Welcome to the Trump Presidency. As many predicted Trump hit the ground running as soon as he took office, he is applying savvy negotiation tactics with every move he makes. The original ban was heavy handed and deliberately over the top. It sparked outrage, and while Trump would have been satisfied with the first order going through, he was well aware of the risk of injunction.

The new ban still keeps all of his promises and achieves a measure of border security that was lacking. It does so legally while saving international face. The most staunchly anti-Trump organizations will still complain, but they will now do so without teeth. You can expect to see this tactic repeated throughout the presidency. Trump will open with excessive demands precisely so he can “concede” without giving up the things he really wanted.

~ American Liberty Report