Yesterday, President Trump issued his third travel ban. As you may recall, the previous Executive Order on this topic called for the “assessment of current screening and vetting procedures.” While the ban itself was suspended by numerous legal challenges, apparently the information gathering work was in fact completed.
The new travel ban effects nationals of 8 countries – nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia, and North Korea. Sudan was removed from the previous travel ban list, while Venezuela and North Korea were added. Six of the effected countries have majority muslim populations.
The new ban will remain in effect indefinitely.
Experts indicate that the new ban will be harder to challenge in court. It is more polished, more precise, and more removed from President Trump’s numerous anti-Muslim campaign comments. It ameliorates some of the most egregious problems with the initial, January 27 ban: there will be a several week delay before the new ban goes into effect, people who currently hold valid visa will not be effected by the new ban, and restrictions vary slightly by country, allowing, for example, Iranians with valid student visas to enter the country.
In short, this is what a politically savvy travel ban would have looked like in the first place. It has been thoroughly considered and vetted; carefully dressed up to give the impression of a relatively reasonable piece of U.S. policy.
But make no mistake: this travel ban still represents a grave overreach based in fear and racism. It is still unacceptable.
I have attended several travel ban protests in the last nine months and it looks as though in the near future I’ll be attending more.
And while attending those protests, I suppose I’ll be remembering Machiavelli’s advice to his beloved prince: If you’re going to do something terrible, start by doing something as terrible as possible. Then, when you benevolently scale back to something slightly less terrible, the people will appreciate your reasonableness and moderation.
That’s what a clever dictator would do.