Tag Archives: refugee ban

Travel ban now in effect: Do you feel safe now?

Donald J. Trump’s travel ban is back in force now, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court struck down previous lower-court rulings that set aside the ban, giving the president a limited victory in his campaign against Muslims around the world.

The president hails it as a way to make Americans safe from international terrorists. The ban affects those seeking to come to the United States from six Muslim-majority nations. If they do come here from any of those six nations, they must have some tangible, identifiable connection to this country: a relative, enrollment at a U.S. college or university.

He has vowed to protect us from those who seek to do us harm. The president asserted during the 2016 campaign that potential terrorists were “pouring into” our country and that, by golly, he intended to stop it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe I’ll feel one bit safer down the road when the travel ban becomes fully implemented.

This ban doesn’t account for the home-grown terrorists who have brought misery to fellow Americans. It doesn’t deal at all with the terrorists, or terror groups, opening fire in crowded movie theaters, in nightclubs, at a U.S. Army post, in a Charleston, S.C., church.

We all remember 9/11. We recall the hideous nature of that dastardly act. We scorned the terrorists as cowardly bastards. We have gone to war against them.

Have we been hit by terrorists in an attack even remotely similar since that terrible day? No. Our national security apparatus, though, has stopped many attempts during the past 16 years.

It’s the so-called “lone wolf” terrorist who is so very difficult to detect in advance of their act.

In my view, a travel ban cannot stop someone from sneaking into this country from, say, Sweden or France, or Brazil or Russia who then would commit an act of terror.

Court (more or less) restores Trump’s travel ban

The notion of banning people from entering this nation because they come from places where most citizens practice a certain religion remains repugnant to me.

The United States of America is supposed to stand for a principle that welcomes all citizens of the world. That’s no longer the case.

Donald J. Trump’s ban on folks coming from six Muslim-majority nations has been kinda/sorta restored by the U.S. Supreme Court, which today issued a 6-3 ruling to back the president. Today’s ruling overturns a lower court decision that threw out the ban on the basis that it discriminates against people because of their religion.

What does it mean? I guess it bans anyone who comes here who lacks any “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Others can come in, according to the court.

My question remains the same: Will any of this make us safer against international terrorists? I do not believe that’s the case.

It’s just a partial ban

Nothing in the president’s initiative prevents U.S. citizens from committing acts of terror. The U.S. Army psychiatrist who killed those folks at Fort Hood in November 2009 is an American, to cite just one example.

I continue to cling to the notion that “extreme vetting,” which the president also has called for, isn’t a bad thing by itself. Indeed, U.S. customs and immigration officials need to do better at ensuring at points of entry that everyone coming here does not pose a threat; they’re doing that already.

Today’s ruling only settles it temporarily. The court’s next term begins in October and the justices will take it up fully then.

Score one for the president, though. He got a ruling he can live with, even though it won’t do a thing to make us safer against those who would harm us.

More ‘so-called judges’ deal blow to travel ban

Donald J. Trump stepped into a serious political minefield when he labeled a federal jurist who disagreed with his ban on Muslims entering this country a “so-called judge.”

Mr. President, here’s a flash. More of those “so-called” judges have joined in rejecting your revised travel ban.


The latest rejection comes from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Virginia. The court ruled that the president’s second travel ban is as discriminatory against a certain religion as the first ban. The judges scolded him, too, for seeking to pursue a policy they deem to be unconstitutional.

It doesn’t look good for Trump’s effort to ban entry into this country to those who practice a certain religious faith. The 9th Court of Appeals is set to hear another case that was struck down by a federal judge in Hawaii; the 9th Court had rejected the first ban initially.

The case is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court’s lap. Indeed, the nine men and women on the nation’s highest court well might decide against even hearing the case, which would let the lower-court rulings stand.

We are witnessing from the front row an exercise in the checks-and-balances that the nation’s founders intended in the 18th century when they drafted the U.S. Constitution.

They did well. Don’t you think?

Executive authority now becomes OK, yes, Mr. President?

I recall hearing time and again during the 2016 presidential campaign that Barack H. Obama’s use of executive authority was somehow a bad thing.

The president shouldn’t govern by executive fiat, said many of his critics, such as the Republican nominee for president, Donald John Trump.

Hmm. Well, times have changed, haven’t they?

Trump is now the president. He’s assumed the role of chief executive of the federal government. By golly, the man has found that executive authority isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Indeed, as that supposedly “phony” 100-day threshold approaches, the current president is left to proclaim the only victories of his new term have come via executive order.

Oh, and he’s also suffered some embarrassment through this activity as well, such as when the federal judiciary knocked down two of his travel bans for those coming here from Muslim-majority countries.

Through executive authority, Trump is demonstrating his ability to use the power granted to him by virtue of his election. I get that. I respect the authority granted to the president and I won’t condemn him for using it, per se.

What boggles my mind is how he continues to get away with the rhetorical gymnastics he performs routinely and how he manages to bluster his way out of what he said earlier.

He said while campaigning he wouldn’t have time for golf; he said would be at the White House 24/7 working to bring back all those jobs that have gone offshore; he promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else.

He’s done essentially two things during his first 100 days as president: He nominated a Supreme Court justice, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and he ordered a missile strike against Syrian military targets in response to Syrians’ use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Legislative accomplishment? Nothing, man. The president has relied almost exclusively on his executive authority — which he condemned when another president did the same thing.

No intention to lecture AG about the law, but really …

I am acutely aware that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is an educated man.

He went to law school; passed the Alabama state bar; served as a federal prosecutor; tried to become a federal judge in the 1980s, but was rejected by the U.S. Senate because of some things he reportedly said about black people; then he was elected to the Senate.

He now serves as U.S. attorney general, thanks to an appointment by Donald John Trump.

There. Having stipulated all of that, I need to remind the attorney general that he should not disrespect the tenet of judicial review that the nation’s founders established when they formed our republic more than two centuries ago.

I say this with no desire to lecture the AG about the law, or the U.S. Constitution.

However, when he pops off about a federal judge sitting on the bench “on an island in the Pacific,” he has disrespected one of the basic frameworks set aside by those founders.

The judge presides over a federal court in Hawaii, one of the nation’s 50 states. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled against Trump’s temporary travel ban on constitutional grounds. The travel ban is now heading to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

You’ll recall, too, that the president himself referred to another federal jurist in Washington state as a “so-called judge” when he struck down an earlier travel ban involving refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. Trump might need a lecture about the Constitution and the separation of powers written into it; he might need to be told about how the founders intended for the judiciary to be independent of political pressure. Given that Trump had zero government experience prior to becoming — gulp! — president, he might be unaware of the not-so-fine print written in the Constitution.

The attorney general should know better than to disparage a federal judge in the manner that he did.

An island in the Pacific? C’mon, Mr. Attorney General.

Suck it up. Let the courts do their job. Sure, you are entitled to challenge court decisions’ legality. However, let’s stop the petulant put-downs.

Same thing goes for you, too, Mr. President.

Mr. AG, Hawaii isn’t just an ‘island in the Pacific’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this on a radio talk show: “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Hmm. An island in the Pacific? Was it, oh, Fiji? Palau? Tahiti?

Oh, no. The “island in the Pacific” is Hawaii, one of the 50 United States of America. Hawaii is governed by the very same federal government as all the rest of the states.

The object of the attorney general’s criticism, though, is a federal judge — a Hawaii native — who ruled against Donald J. Trump’s second travel ban that bars Muslims from several countries from entering the United States. The ruling came from U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, who happens to live in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Sessions blows that dog whistle

Hawaii’s two U.S. senators have reacted strongly to Sessions’ statement, made on talk show host Mark Levin’s program. The Huffington Post reported: “Sen. Mazie Hirono likened his remarks about Watson to ‘dog whistle politics.’” That identifies the kind of coded remarks meant to appeal mainly to certain segments of the population. Republicans and Democrats both have their “bases” that respond instinctively to certain political “dog whistles.”

The Huffington Post also reported: “In a statement later Thursday, Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that vets and confirms federal judges, called Sessions’ suggestion that Watson is somehow unable to carry out his duties impartially ‘dangerous, ignorant, and prejudiced.’

“’I am frankly dumbfounded that our nation’s top lawyer would attack our independent judiciary,’ she said. ‘But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks against the very tenets of our Constitution and democracy.’”

I feel the need to stipulate once again: Hawaii isn’t some remote outpost. Judge Watson adheres to the same oath that the attorney general himself took when he joined the Justice Department.

These attacks on the “independent judiciary” have to stop.


How can Trump deny Syrian refugees?

Donald J. Trump expressed appropriate outrage over the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians — including children.

The president is right. Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. And I do support the decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles at military bases believed to be where the Syrians launched the chemical weapons against their fellow citizens.

However …

How does the president justify his decision to ban refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria because they happen to originate from a Muslim-majority nation?

His statement condemning the casualties inflicted on children seems to fly directly against his heartless decision to ban refugees.

How do you balance one against the other, Mr. President?

Let the kids pray, Mr. Attorney General

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has decided to make an issue where none exists.

The non-issue involves some Muslim students at Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas, a Dallas suburb. They’ve been attending prayers in a classroom for years. They have been practicing their faith — of their own volition. The school has allowed the students to use the classroom and there’s been no issue with the other students.

Enter the attorney general, who has sent a letter to school administrators expressing his alleged concern about the Muslim prayers being recited in a public high school.

But then there’s this item, as reported in the Washington Post:

“Paxton attracted national attention last December when he waded into a dispute in Killeen, Tex., between a middle school principal and a nurse’s aide who put up a six-foot poster in the school with a quote from the classic animation special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that read: ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.’

“After the principal told the aide to take the poster down, Paxton wrote to the Killeen school district: ‘These concerns are not surprising in an age of frivolous litigation by anti-Christian interest groups … Rescind this unlawful policy.’

“When the school district refused, Paxton helped the nurse’s aide sue, and won.”

So, there you have it. It’s OK to sanction Christian activities in a public school, but when a group of Muslim students seeks some quiet time to pray, why, the AG expresses concern?

I understand what the Constitution says about government establishing laws that favor certain religions. The Constitution does not prohibit students from praying on their own. That is what is occurring in Frisco.

As the Post reports: “’This ‘news release’ appears to be a publicity stunt by the OAG to politicize a nonissue,’ schools superintendent Jeremy Lyon wrote in reply to the state. ‘Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption.’”

It’s fair to ask: Would the attorney general have expressed concern had the students been Christian?

Frisco school officials have told the Post that the state never asked about the nature of the prayers when the school began allowing the students to use the room. Why is Paxton raising the issue now?

The anti-Muslim climate in this country is being fanned by policies enacted at the very top of the government chain of command. The president of the United States seeks to ban refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries and has run headlong into objections from federal judges who contend his executive order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

As for what is occurring at Liberty High in Frisco, let the students pray, Mr. Attorney General.

Establishment Clause derails latest refugee ‘ban’

The nation’s founders were wise men. They didn’t craft a perfect governing document, but they got it mostly right.

They established the seven Articles within the U.S. Constitution, then set about to fine-tune it, tinkering with amendments, the first 10 of which guaranteed certain civil liberties to the citizens of the day.

The First Amendment is under discussion today as the nation ponders this idiotic idea by the current president to ban refugees from six Muslim countries.

Two federal judges have suspended the new rule on the grounds that it violates the Establishment Clause set forth in the very first amendment.

Interesting, yes? I think so. Here’s why.

The First Amendment protects three civil liberties: religion, the press and the right to assemble peaceably. It’s fascinating in the extreme to me that the founders constructed the First Amendment to prohibit the enactment of laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ” Of the three liberties outlined, the founders listed religion first.

Donald J. Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0 does essentially the same thing  — with a few modifications — as the first executive order that a federal judge struck down. It targets Muslims, discriminating against them as they seek to enter the United States.

Sure, the president insists he seeks only to protect Americans against terrorists.

Three federal judges, though, have said violating the Establishment Cause is illegal. Judges in Washington state, Hawaii and Maryland have concurred that such an order is discriminatory on its face.

No can do, Mr. President.

Therein perhaps lies the beauty of our form of government, the one crafted by the founders who knew the value of restricting the power of the executive branch. They did it by parceling out power equally to the legislative and, yes, the judicial branches of government. They allowed for lifetime appointments of federal judges ostensibly to liberate them from political pressure and to enable them to interpret the Constitution freely.

The judicial branch has exerted its rightful authority yet again. It did not commit, as the president said, an “unprecedented overreach” of judicial power.

It has recognized the importance of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, understanding that the founders thought enough of that clause and the contents of that amendment to enact it first.

There goes the ‘revised’ Muslim ban

It’s back to the drawing board, or perhaps to another piece of scratch paper, for Donald J. Trump’s effort to ban Muslims from entering the United States of America.

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson today has issued a restraining order that prohibits the president’s revised travel ban from taking effect.

The judge, based in Hawaii, ruled that Trump’s revised ban is just as discriminatory against people of a certain faith as his first ban. Thus, said the judge, the president is violating the U.S. Constitution.

What’s next? The case is likely to return to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld an earlier ruling by another federal judge that struck down Trump’s initial refugee.

The president had a response, according to National Public Radio: Trump, speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tenn., called the restraining order “unprecedented judicial overreach.” He said, “The law and the Constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration — when he deems — or she, fortunately it will not be Hillary, ‘she’ — when he or she deems it to be in the national interests of our country.”

At least Trump didn’t call Watson a “so-called judge,” which he labeled U.S. District Judge James Robart, who struck down the first refugee ban.

Trump sought to soften the ban by removing Iraq from his list of banned countries. He also removed the word “Muslim” from the new order. That wasn’t good enough, according to Judge Watson, who said the order still singles out Muslims, which he said is discriminatory on its face.

Watson then ticked off a long list of anti-Muslim statements Trump made while campaigning for president and while he has served as president.

Those of us who thought the new order was better than the first one, but who remain opposed to the policy itself, are heartened by the judge’s decision.

I have an idea for the president to consider. Yes, he’s concerned about protecting Americans from international terrorists. I get it and I endorse his concern. But Mr. President, why not just instruct our federal security authorities to be hyper-vigilant at every entry point?

That’ll protect us, too.