Politics Foreign Affairs Culture

The U.S. Doesn’t Benefit from the Revised Ban

Because the ban is security theater, it will achieve nothing in reality while imposing unnecessary burdens on would-be visitors and refugees.

Benjamin Wittes acknowledges that the Trump administration made a number of important concessions in its revised travel ban order, but still says this:

To be sure, the new version of the executive order will have consequences—all of them bad. It will keep large numbers of people from six countries out of the United States for no good reason [bold mine-DL]. It will delay resettlement of large numbers of refugees and prevent altogether resettlement in the United States of a smaller number of refugees. As with the earlier version of the executive order, the overwhelming majority of people affected by this one will not be terrorists or even people against whom there is whiff of suspicion. The overwhelming majority of those affected, rather, will be innocent victims of horrific violence and folks who just want to come to the United States for reasons of tourism or business [bold mine-DL]. It’s terrible policy that will, I suspect, have implications almost as negative for counterterrorism effectiveness as it will for this country’s moral standing and self image.

All of that seems right to me, and I would just add that it isn’t going to make the U.S. any safer because the people that are being barred from entry aren’t a threat to us. They are being treated as potential threats because their countries are suffering from civil war or because their governments are deemed state sponsors of terrorism, which means that they are being subjected to collective punishment because of events or policies beyond their control. The U.S. doesn’t “have to” let any of these people come here, but there is no compelling reason why nationals from the targeted countries should be singled out as especially dangerous. Because the ban is security theater, it may give the public the impression that the government has done something to reduce the (already small) threat of terrorism, but it will achieve nothing in reality while imposing unnecessary burdens on would-be visitors and refugees. Even if it holds up under legal scrutiny, the order is lousy policy and ought to be rescinded.



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