President Donald Trump whiffed on his first attempt to close U.S. borders to refugees from Syria and visitors from several other predominantly Muslim countries. His second attempt is in trouble, too.
A federal judge in Hawaii, one of three considering challenges to the March 6 executive order, blocked it Wednesday, the day before it was scheduled to take effect.
U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson probably won’t have the final say on the order, which the president insists is needed as a safeguard against terrorism and a half-dozen state attorneys general say is unconstitutional. But any appeal of Watson’s decision would go to the 9th Circuit Court, which already rejected the travel ban once.
Trump’s March 6 order is mildly better than his first attempt, exempting people with valid green cards or previously approved visas and dropping Iraq from the list of targeted countries. But the new order is still tainted by candidate Trump’s pointed comments about banning Muslims from the United States. And the arbitrary approach is more likely to disrupt the U.S. economy than it is to prevent terrorism.
California joined the opposition this week along with a half-dozen other states, including Washington, which prevailed in a legal challenge to the original order.
“Last month, our courts put a lid on the unconstitutional and un-American Trump Muslim travel ban because Americans stood up and demanded it,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the state’s entry into the current case.
The travel ban isn’t Trump’s only executive order facing judicial scrutiny.
On Tuesday, the Santa Rosa City Council decided to submit legal arguments supporting San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in their efforts to overturn a Jan. 25 executive order targeting “sanctuary” cities and counties for sanctions, including the loss of federal funds — an approach Santa Clara’s lawsuit aptly describes as “extortion.”
Santa Rosa council members declined to adopt the “sanctuary city” label, but they are sticking with a longstanding policy that prohibits city employees, including police, from enforcing federal civil immigration laws.
Some cities and counties have steered clear of immigration enforcement for decades — and for good reason. For the best explanations, listen to local law enforcement officials. With a few exceptions, they say they don’t want their officers asking about immigration status so residents aren’t afraid to report crimes — thus leaving criminals on the streets — and to ensure that criminals aren’t empowered to prey on undocumented immigrants.
Trump regularly praises the work done by police around the country. Unfortunately, as his strong-arm tactics show, he isn’t interested in what they have to say about immigration enforcement.
For that matter, it appears that the White House isn’t listening to the Department of Homeland Security either, at least as far as the travel ban goes. Intelligence experts at the department determined that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.
So what plausible justification exists for targeting citizens of Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Iran? We think the answer is clear: There is none.