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Trump Insists on Refugee/Muslim Ban that Undermines National Security, American Values

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The revised refugee and Muslim ban signed today does not dramatically change in character from the initial version, according to details reported by Reuters and comments by the president’s team. As we know, such a ban undermines national security and American values.

And despite supposed national security rationales for the bans, the redraft has been delayed for weeks, most recently in order to give the president more time to bask in the glow of his “successful” speech to a joint session of Congress.  A senior administration official told CNN: “We want the EO to have its own ‘moment.’”  In the meantime, multiple damning analyses have emerged from the Department of Homeland Security that also undercut Trump’s supposed security rationale.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban is still a refugee and Muslim ban, despite a few minor tweaks. The ban remains a cruel, chaotic, and dangerous affront to the principles our country was founded on.  Trump’s cynical handling of this entire effort has shown just how reckless and manipulative he’s willing to be–with our nation’s security and our nation’s values.

Consider the following key points.

This started as a refugee and Muslim ban, and it’s still a refugee and Muslim ban.

During his presidential campaign, the Trump campaign called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” (also see Trump’s July 2016 comments on “Meet the Press”).

Trump ally Rudy Giuliani admitted on Fox News in January, “When he [Trump] first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”

And, as White House adviser Stephen Miller said in February regarding the revised ban, “[T]hese are mostly minor, technical differences. Fundamentally, you are still going to have the same, basic policy outcome for the country.”

Trump’s “national security” rationale has been blown to shreds.

First, we had the numerous national security experts who spoke out against the original travel ban in January 2017.

Then we saw a leaked DHS intelligence memo calling citizenship an “unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States.” In other words, the national security rationale behind the Trump ban doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In fact, there are multiple reasons why the ban actively undermines national security.

Then, we saw the President’s team justifying further delay in order to maximize what they saw as a favorable media cycle.

Finally, we saw yet another memo from the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis undercutting Trump’s national security argument, finding 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.”

The real story is this: Trump’s white nationalist advisers remain empowered to build out their agenda. 

In the Los Angeles Times, Brian Bennett highlighted that the Sessions/Bannon/Miller wing of the Trump Administration is explicit in its stated goals of trying to reshape America’s demographic trends, largely along lines of race and religion. As Bennett noted, “Behind President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations and block travel from seven mostly Muslim countries lies a goal that reaches far beyond any immediate terrorism threat: a desire to reshape American demographics for the long term and keep out people who Trump and senior aides believe will not assimilate.”

Similarly, David Nakamura writes in the Washington Post, the Trump Administration’s immigration vision “reflects the underlying aims of Trump and his top aides to more broadly remake U.S. immigration policy to match a nationalist ideology that views large numbers of foreigners as harmful to U.S. society.”