Does Anyone Know What the Travel Ban Is?

by Rich Lowry

Trump insists that the so-called travel ban is a travel ban. It isn’t really — it’s a 90-day pause on most travel from a few select countries for the purpose of allowing the time for new vetting procedures. The point isn’t supposed to be the pause itself, but the vetting going forward. Maybe Trump doesn’t understand this, or has in mind making the pause permanent (in which case, it’d be more of a ban), but he isn’t really talking about what’s in the four corners of his own policy.

Meanwhile, the Left doesn’t seem to understand this, either. I was on Fox earlier with a Democrat who attacked the ban while saying we need more vetting. But, again, the vetting is the most consequential part of the so-called ban. When I pointed this out, he asked why the vetting hadn’t been implemented. Good question! The vetting, too, has been blocked by the courts. Our friend Josh Blackman explains:

Two different nationwide injunctions have prevented the government from enforcing key provisions of Executive Order 13,780. On March 16, 2017, the day the order was to go into effect, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the District of Maryland entered an injunction in IRAP v. Trump barring the executive branch from enforcing Section 2(c) of the order. Section 2(c) suspends entry of certain aliens from six nations for 90 days from the effective date of the order. However, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the District of Hawaii’s injunction more broadly enjoined the executive branch “from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of the Executive Order across the Nation.” Two days later, the Solicitor General filed a motion for clarification, asking whether the order “enjoins purely internal activities of the government as described in both Sections 2 and 6, such as Section 2’s provisions addressing agency review of global vetting procedures that was to take place during the suspension-of-entry period.” Judge Watson promptly denied the motion for reconsideration, stating that “there is nothing unclear about the scope of the Court’s order.” Sections 2 and 6 remained enjoined. The Ninth Circuit’s denied the Solicitor General’s request to stay the injunction.

Josh goes on to discuss how the Ninth Circuit could lift the vetting portion of the injunction and perhaps render this case moot. Read the whole thing. Whatever the legal wrinkles, the 90-day pause has substantively been rendered a near-irrelevance. Do we really need to pause travel to review the vetting procedures whenever the courts permit it, assuming they ever do? We presumably could just get on with the vetting. But this case is still extremely consequential and must be won — otherwise the courts are going to take on an outsized, illegitimate role in our immigration policymaking and perhaps take a step toward creating a constitutional right for foreign nationals to come to the United States.

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