Tag Archives: refugee ban

Trump’s new travel ban: better, but still not worthy

I’ll hand it to Donald J. Trump.

At least he can tinker around the edges of a bad policy to make it somewhat more palatable, even if the very principle behind it stinks.

I refer to the revised travel ban he introduced to the world Monday.

He took Iraq off the list of Muslim-majority nations where refugees are banned from entering the United States; he exempts those with current visas from the list; it removes language that grants exemptions for “religious minorities” in the Middle East; it won’t take effect until March 16.

Is this one better than the old policy that was shot down by a federal judge, whose opinion was upheld by a federal appeals court? Yes.

It remains problematic for those of us who just dislike the idea of singling out countries and people who adhere to certain religious faiths from this brand of “profiling.”

The reaction to this revised rule has been far less vocal than the outburst that greeted the initial rule, which the president signed into law via executive order one week after taking office. Accordingly, it’s interesting, too, that Trump signed this executive order in private; no cameras, no ceremony, no hoopla, hype or hysteria.

“This is definitely on much firmer legal ground,” according to a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security. “It’s pretty narrowly applied to new visa applicants, which is probably the place where the president has the most authority.”

Time will tell — probably very soon — whether this one will stand up to court challenges. My guess is that it will, although if I were king of the world I would prefer that the president simply instruct immigration, customs and border security troops to be hyper-vigilant when checking everyone who seeks to come here.

Chaos, confusion still reign in White House

Amid the chaos and confusion that continues to swirl through the White House, Americans are being “treated” — if you don’t mind my use of that verb — with an example of ignorance of how our federal government is supposed to work.

The rhetoric of a young firebrand working inside the Trump administration offers a classic case in point.

Stephen Miller — a senior policy adviser — was trotted out this past weekend on the news talk shows in which he declared that “unelected judges” have no business deciding matters that come before them. He said that U.S. District Judge James Robart must not “make laws” in determining that Donald Trump’s ban on refugees coming to this country needs further review; he said the same thing about the federal appellate court judges, the 9th U.S. Circuit, who upheld Judge Robart’s decision.

Hold on, young man!

The founders created a government that entitles those judges to do precisely what they did. The president’s ruling bars refugees coming here from Muslim-majority countries. It, in effect, discriminates against people on the basis of their religion. Trump says he wants to protect Americans against “radical Islamic terrorists.” Of course, the ban doesn’t necessarily cover blond, blue-eyed Europeans who well might have been recruited by terrorist organizations to do the very thing we all want to prevent.

Miller, it should be noted, helped write Trump’s Republican presidential nomination acceptance speech this past summer in which the nominee said “I alone can fix” what ails the nation.

Actually, this isn’t a one-man game.

The Washington Post published a fascinating profile of Miller.

Here it is.

But my essential point is that Trump — who is facing a mountainous pile of potential crises so early in his administration — needs to grasp the notion that governance is a complicated process. It involves a complex set of machinery that is intended to limit the power of one man, or one branch of government. They are “co-equal branches of government” for precisely that reason.

Add to all of that the pandemonium that has erupted over the resignation of the national security adviser and questions about whether he and others in the administration covered up improper contacts with Russian intelligence officials, and you have a prescription for unmitigated disaster.

“Unelected judges” are part of the process, young Mr. Miller. If the boss is going to continue to shoot first and aim later with executive orders and tweets, then all of them had better get used to more of what the courts have delivered.


I have to share with you a column I saw this morning from Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, who takes the president down hard.

Pitts is angry with the what he calls Trump’s “so-called presidency.”

Pitts can turn a phrase … or two.

He has done so with great precision here.

Hey … what happened to the Russian hacking story?

Events often overtake other events. News gets shoved aside when events bury them.

Such appears to be the case with the Russian hacking controversy.

Remember that one?

Donald J. Trump got elected president of the United States amid reports/rumors/allegations that Russian government computer geeks hacked into our electoral system in an attempt to aid Trump’s campaign.

The president has dismissed any kind of link. He has disparaged our intelligence agencies, which have concluded that the Russians played a role in hacking into our electoral process.

Isn’t it a big deal to have a foreign power — Russia, no less! — involved in such activity?

Well, it turns out that Trump has a way of changing the subject: executive order banning travel into the country from several Muslim-majority nations; strange confirmations of Cabinet officials; questions about his daughter’s line of clothing; his continual tweets criticizing federal judges; a Supreme Court nominee telling senators the president’s tweets are “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

All the while, the Russian hacking story has been tossed aside. It’s been pushed to the back of the bottom shelf, way behind the other stuff.

We still need some definitive answers about the Russians supposedly did and how they might have affected the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

President gets real-time lesson on government limits

Donald Trump had zero government experience when he became president of the United States.

He seemed to think he could step into the presidency, assume the role of CEO and everyone would do his bidding.

He is now finding out that it doesn’t work quite that way. He is learning in real time that the founders established a government that limits presidential power. They created a government that allows two other branches to rein in an executive branch that could overstep its authority.

Congress is controlled by men and women who belong to the same political party as the president. Thus, the legislative branch might roll over. This leaves the final check to the judicial branch, which is flexing its muscles in this struggle over Trump’s executive order that restricts travel to the United States from those who hail from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The struggle now seems headed to the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court likely will get to decide whether to uphold two lower-court rulings that have stalled the execution of Trump’s executive order.

If the Supremes uphold the earlier rulings — either with an actual ruling or a tie vote created by the unfilled vacancy — then the president will have to consider another way to “make America safe again.”

Perhaps the next tactic he employs will be considered more carefully and executed with more thought than the cluster-fudge he rolled out with this refugee ban.

Will any of this humble the president? Will it give him pause to consider his next action? Probably not, but it still gives me some comfort to know that the founders knew how to create a government that works.

And just for the record, if the Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favor and overrules the lower courts, then I’ll consider that — as well — to be a demonstration of a functioning federal government.

However, my concern were that to occur would be that it would embolden a president to misread the limitations on power that the founders wrote into the framework that built this nation.

Mammoth court fight awaits Trump

Here is where we stand regarding that ill-considered ban on refugees.

It appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, thanks to a unanimous ruling this afternoon by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a lower court’s suspension of Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Clear as mud, yes?

The 9th Court ruled 3-0 to uphold the suspension ordered by U.S. District Judge James Robart, whom Trump called a “so-called judge” in criticizing his decision.

What about the politics of the court? Judge Robart is a George W. Bush appointee; the three appellate court judges were picked by Presidents Carter, Bush 43 and Obama. It looks like a bipartisan rejection to me.

Now the highest court stands ready to ponder this controversial executive order. It has a vacancy, meaning that eight justices are on the job. Four conservatives and four liberals. What happens if the Supremes issue a tie vote? The 9th Court ruling stands. Trump’s executive order is negated.

The 9th Court ruling takes aim at the provision in the order that bars people with visas from re-entering the United States, which the judges ruled is unconstitutional.

According to The Associated Press: “The appeals panel said the government presented no evidence to explain the urgent need for the executive order to take effect immediately. The judges noted compelling public interests on both sides.

“‘On the one hand, the public has a powerful interest in national security and in the ability of an elected president to enact policies. And on the other, the public also has an interest in free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination.'”

Trump, of course, responded with a tweet. “SEE YOU IN COURT,” the president said via Twitter.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, whose state has sued the president over his executive order, responded: “Mr. President, we just saw you in court, and we beat you.”

The fight has just begun.

‘Extreme vetting’ doesn’t sound so bad after all

When he was campaigning for the presidency, Donald J. Trump called for “extreme vetting” of people seeking entry into the United States of America.

Then he became president. What did Trump do then? He signed an executive order that prohibits entry of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order has raised a firestorm of criticism. The federal judiciary has entered the fray by delaying implementation of the order.

So, my question is this: What happened to “extreme vetting” of every single immigrant who wants to enter the country?

I guess the president needs to define the term. How extreme does the government go? To what end do agents grill incoming visitors? How do they determine a threat to our national security?

The problem I have with Trump’s executive order is its discriminatory nature. I believe the court system might have a similar problem with it, too.

Of course, extreme vetting or any ramping up of security measures will cost lots of money. Congressional Republicans would seem to resist such an expenditure without finding a way to pay for it. Isn’t that what fiscal conservatives are supposed to demand?

If Trump is serious about protecting Americans from threats abroad, then he ought to protect us against all types of immigrants. If this extreme vetting policy is fair and effective, the vast majority of entrants will find a home in the Land of Opportunity.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Still waiting for the outrage over mosque fire

This just in … investigators have determined that an arsonist set a fire that destroyed a mosque in the Texas coastal city of Victoria.

That silence we’re hearing from Washington, D.C. — namely from the Oval Office — over this despicable act is, well, a bit deafening.

Donald J. Trump hasn’t said a word publicly about it. Nor has our nation’s Department of Justice. Our national security adviser hasn’t uttered a peep; then again, what does one expect from Michael Flynn, who has called Islam a “cancer”?

Yes, we’re at war but supposedly not with Islam. We’re at war with terrorists who have perverted a religion.

I’m gratified, though, to read how the Victoria community has rallied behind the congregation that is suffering in the wake of the fire that destroyed the mosque in late January. I also am glad to know that federal authorities have joined state and local investigators in searching for the culprit who did this deed.

Victoria residents and leaders are teaching a valuable lesson of compassion and empathy that I wish would be heard by those who sit around the offices in the West Wing of the White House.

It’s interesting, too, that authorities have issued a press release that says this: “At this time, the evidence does not indicate the fire was a biased crime.”

According to the Texas Tribune: “Federal, state and local agencies are investigating the Jan. 28 blaze, which grabbed international headlines in part because it roared through the mosque hours after President Donald Trump signed his executive order barring refugees from entering the country and restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.”


Keep looking, folks. Something tells me you’re going to find something that does indicate “bias.”

Gorsuch stands up for his judicial peers

I am beginning to think more highly of Neil Gorsuch.

The man whom Donald J. Trump has nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court has put the president on notice, saying that Trump’s tweets about the federal judiciary are “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

It’s tempting — for me at least — to wonder if Trump is going to withdraw Gorsuch’s nomination because he had the gall (and the integrity) to speak in favor of his federal judicial peers.

Of course Gorsuch is correct. The president’s petulance performance via Twitter has been beyond the pale and below the high standards of respect the presidency should demand.

Trump clearly demands that others respect the office. I submit that he should respect it, too. Perhaps he should respect it more, given that his behavior — or misbehavior — reflects directly on the office to which he was elected.

Trump’s tweets have been in response to a federal judge’s decision to strike down the president’s temporary refugee ban. The president has chosen to demonstrate his anger through this social medium — acting like, oh, a teenager who’s just been told his car isn’t as cool as the other guy’s.

Now a judicial gentleman has taken the president to task.

Good for you, Judge Gorsuch.

Trump vs. The Judges: Pulling for the folks in the robes

Donald J. Trump’s fight with the federal judiciary could be shaping up to be a donnybrook.

The president instituted a temporary restriction on travelers seeking to enter the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries; then U.S. District Judge James Robart in Washington state struck it down, prompting Trump to call Robart a “so-called judge” and said the nation should blame him if a terrorist sneaks into the country and does harm.

There’s more. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing the Trump administration’s appeal and the three-judge panel that heard the case is sounding skeptical of the president’s order.

The plot thickens. If the 9th Court rejects the appeal, then it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, which at the moment stands at eight members. Suppose, then, that the high court deadlocks — with the four conservative justices voting in favor of the ban and the five liberals oppose it. The lower-court ruling stands.

There’s some chatter now about whether the Supreme Court will be affected in some manner by the untoward things the president has said about the federal judiciary.

Has Trump crossed a serious line? Some scholars believe the president’s Twitter tirades against Robart in particular and the federal bench in general crosses the separation of powers line between the judicial and executive branches of government.

Get a load of this from The Hill:

“The criticism extends beyond judicial scholars.

“Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) warned that Trump’s attacks, if they continue, threaten not only to undermine the separation of powers but also the president’s own policy agenda.

“’We’re a nation of laws and not men, and this idea of ‘follow me because I say so’ is completely at odds with the Founding Fathers’ intent,’ said Sanford, a Trump supporter who has also criticized the president on certain issues.

“’I learned a long time ago in politics [that] attacking the person or the group that will decide your fate on a given issue generally doesn’t work out that well,’ he added.”

This is yet another matter of governance that the brand new president just doesn’t seem to understand.

They burned a mosque … where’s the outrage?

Someone torched a mosque in Victoria, Texas several days ago. No one was hurt but the house of worship is destroyed.

Did I miss the statement of outrage from Donald J. Trump? Did the president issue a statement of condolence for the families affected by the fire? Did he offer federal support to local law enforcement agencies as they investigate the cause of the fire?

I don’t recall hearing it. He must have been too  busy tweeting about other matters, the big stuff: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sagging ratings for “Celebrity Apprentice,” or the “so-called judge” ruling against his refugee ban.

We are living in hyper-contentious times relating to people’s faith. The president’s ban on refugees is aimed at seven countries that comprise a mostly Muslim population. He wants to invoke “extreme vetting” of all immigrants.

Then a mosque is burned to the ground.

Community rallies for unity

Granted, there has been support expressed by community members in the South Texas city. Victoria residents have rallied to help the families who worship at the Victoria Islamic Center. They deserve high praise for the rallying that has occurred.

As the Texas Tribune has reported, the support has been ecumenical in nature: “Just hours after the fire, Victoria’s Temple B’Nai Israel offered its synagogue for local Muslims’ five-times daily prayer needs. Similar proposals followed from three Christian churches and the owner of an empty building in town. After initially accepting some of those offers, the Islamic Center is preparing an adjacent building on its property — cramped, but unburned — for prayer. That move delays plans to open a free weekend medical clinic in that structure.”

But in this time of national angst over matters relating to religion and the president’s aim to target Muslims seeking refuge in the United States, a statement of condolence from the Oval Office would resonate loudly across the nation.

Wouldn’t it?