by Anne Jaclard
Donald Trump’s second “Muslim ban” was to go into effect tomorrow, March 16, but it was just stayed by a federal judge in Hawaii, who considers that its Constitutional violations are substantially the same as the first ban’s legal defects. Hawaii is one of several states that are suing to invalidate the law. The federal court there acted first, and its stay has, at least temporarily, prevented the new law from going into effect throughout the U.S.
Hawaii’s Attorney General, Douglas Chin, who filed the case last week and won the stay today, has spoken eloquently about the distaste of people in his multiracial state for discrimination.
Meanwhile, Trump held a campaign-style public rally in Tennessee just after the court ruling came down, where he tried to whip up the crowd against the judiciary, denouncing it as “political” and blaming it for “endangering the American people.” He said he regretted not having continued the fight for the first, “stronger” ban—as if he were not the “decider”! The rally made a scary scene.
This second travel ban followed Trump’s judicial abandonment of his first Executive Order, which had prevented travel into the U.S. from seven predominantly-Muslim countries and suspended all refugee admissions. Issued just a week after he took office, it was supposed to fulfill his campaign promise to keep out Muslims, and was based on completely false claims that legal entrants have been secret terrorists. As mass protests spread throughout the country and the world, several courts stayed the first ban on the grounds that it violated the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from favoring any religion and from treating people differently based on religion or national origin.
When Trump gave up fighting judicially for his first ban last month, he promised an “immediate” newly-drawn ban that would meet Constitutional requirements and still “make America safe.” He cited the urgency of the matter. But then he took weeks to roll out his new ban, and it’s hardly different from the first. It bans people from six predominantly Muslim countries instead of seven–Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya–and the ban lasts a shorter period, for 90 days; it also bans all refugees for 120 days. During those times, the U.S. is supposed to review its vetting procedures, etc., and can then extend the bans, drop or add countries, etc. The new ban exempts people who already have valid visas or “green cards” (resident status), and provides for issuing exceptions, which changes are meant to make it legal. But the underlying Constitutional flaws remain, and they should be fatal to it.
That doesn’t mean that some courts won’t rule that this ban is legal. The legal fights could go on for months, until the matter is heard by the Supreme Court, which by then may have become even more reactionary through a new appointment by Trump. Win or lose, Trump gives every indication that he will continue to insist on anti-Muslim legislation and attempt to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria.
Protests against the ban have not abated—the many mass demonstrations against Trump over reproductive rights, the mass expulsion of immigrants, gay rights, threatened loss of health care, and many other horrors, continue to include a call for “no ban, no wall.” And Trump is in much potential trouble on so many fronts, from his corruption and blatant violations of law, all the way up to treason for his collaboration with Putin to destabilize the U.S. election. We can hope that the Muslim ban will never go into effect, and will pass into history as a symbol of bigotry, xenophobia and “white supremacy.”