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Editorial: New travel ban is much less terrible, but still a bad idea

First Published      Last Updated Mar 07 2017 04:21 pm

The new executive order limiting travel of people from six Muslim-majority nations to the United States is much less of a mess than was the first version — the one that led to frightened and divided families, chaos at airports, demonstrations in the streets and a quick and much-deserved slap-down from the courts.

Given the low bar that the administration has set for itself, that may qualify as something of a success.

But travel bans singling out the citizens of those particular nations — which have the effect of targeting the adherents of a particular religion — are still both constitutionally suspect and of questionable security value.



Instead of backing the new ban, as Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have, Utah officials should be among the first to oppose it. Not only was this state founded by religious refugees, it has continued to set an example for the world of how new generations of displaced peoples can be accepted and made part of a community.

The new order, issued Monday with much less fanfare than the January ban it replaced, is clearly meant to fulfill an ill-advised campaign pledge to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. It does little to truly protect us and may be seen by the courts as another violation of the First Amendment's injunction against the government favoring one religion over another.

Given a leaked review from the Department of Homeland Security, there seems little reason to single out people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Many of those nations are the site of great turmoil. But experts at the DHS have opined that their citizens have done little harm to the United States and, besides, nationality is a "poor predictor" of violent behavior.

Among the improvements found in the latest order is the fact that it gives travelers — and airports — several day's notice before it takes effect. It no longer applies to people who are permanent legal residents of the U.S., people who already have been granted visas or approved refugees who are already in transit.

A legally suspect loophole that favored Christian refugees over Muslims has been left out.

Iraq is no longer on the list, officials say, because that country has stepped up its review process and has agreed to take back any of its citizens the U.S. may want to reject.

But the 120-day ban still freezes out maybe 60,000 more refugees who have already survived the lengthy vetting process that the sitting president seems unaware of.

And the new order still, no matter what the White House claims, zeros in on Muslims. That is not only unfair to them, it also, by stigmatizing one of the world's largest religions, hands yet another propaganda weapon to those few who really wish us harm.

 

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