President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban, with both versions sidelined in court, has been a hot mess. That’s true however you feel about immigration. And Trump has no one but himself to blame.
He drove that point home again over the last two days with a series of ill-conceived statements that showed he has learned nothing from his setbacks, has yet to grasp the separation of powers inherent in the federal government, and still is locked into his campaign rhetoric.
Prodded by terrorist attacks in London, Trump tweets:
- Referred to a “Travel Ban,” undermining legal and political arguments by surrogates that his executive orders did not constitute a ban, gutting their efforts to divorce the White House case from candidate Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
- Criticized the second ban, drafted after federal courts suspended the first for being poorly crafted and overreaching, as “politically correct and watered down.” Trump still seems to want to make distinctions based on religion for those who wish to come here. That’s still unconstitutional.
- Betrayed his attorney general and government lawyers by saying the Justice Department should have stayed with the first order, which wrongly ensnared holders of green cards and people with valid visas.
- Claimed the courts are slow and political, continuing his appalling campaign to undermine the judiciary.
- Touted the need for extreme vetting of refugees and immigrants. Trump has a right to examine and tighten procedures to keep us safe. But as of Monday, 129 days had passed since his first order, when Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said barring refugees for 120 days and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim nations for 90 days was a temporary pause to check the vetting system. All that time has passed without signs of a better process.
Perhaps homeland security can’t get the job done because many top positions remain open. So fill them. But if it has found that vetting already is stringent, with many background checks and fingerprint screenings by multiple agencies that take up to two years, it should say so.
Trump won’t make our nation safer by politicizing the London attacks and continuing to stigmatize Muslims.