President Trump’s order aimed at shutting the barely ajar US door for immigrants from seven Muslim-heavy countries would not have caused the ruckus it did if it weren’t for Trump’s blurts on religion during the campaign and in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network just before signing the measure.
In a White House sit-down with CBN’s David Brody just before ordering a limited moratorium on the inbound trickle of people from Iran and six other nations with majority-Muslim populations, Trump said something Friday he’ll surely regret given the aim and substance of the document he would sign later that same day. Trump said he would make people of the Christian faith a “priority” when applying exceptions to his screw-tightening on entry requirements.
More specifically referencing those forced to flee war-ravaged Syria, Trump told Brody’s Christian audience that he wants to come to the rescue. Trump floated the notion that his consideration of religion when applied to people running from bombed-out homesteads is a full 180 from that of Obama’s (who we know wasn’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for Syrian refugees). Says Trump: “If you were a Muslim, you could come in (to the US) but if you were a Christian it was almost impossible. I thought it was very unfair, so we are going to help them.”
A few hours later at the Pentagon ceremony to swear-in the new Defense Secretary, Trump signed the order and again invoked religion. “We don’t want ’em here,” said the new President about “radical Islamic terrorists.” Of course he didn’t mention that we already have tight measures to keep out bad guys of any ilk or stripe post-9-11.
What really blew open the intense public dissent seen at international airports in big US cities on Saturday was the order’s clumsy failure to consider in-transit passengers with valid entry documents. Among the first to get caught in the net was an Iraqi who essentially had the same standing as an American war hero.
Congressman Jerry Nadler got wind of it and rushed to JFK. He made noise. Others followed. Michael Moore has almost 4 million Twitter followers and used his bullhorn to get people over to Kennedy.
Airports are the last place a flailing executive branch wants disruptions – so you can bet Trump quaked in his boots a bit as he watched the images showing young people by the thousands at Terminal 4.
Most incredible to me was New York Governor Andy Cuomo telling the Port Authority police to stand down at the Air Train station in Jamaica, Queens so that the energized mob could join the protest.
A close reading of Trump’s executive order reveals exception clauses that allow pre-freeze immigrants with long-in-the-works visas to complete their journey. There are also exception options that go beyond those with pre-pause approval. The Homeland Security web site has put up a good amount of clear-to-understand information about how the order is being implemented.
What prompted the swift and intense public reaction, perhaps even overreaction? Trump’s body of reckless rhetoric has many citizens on edge. The document by itself wouldn’t get the Muslim Ban tag had the guy who signed it not said what he’s said.
The Constitutionality question likely tilts in Trump’s favor since the President is said to have leeway on matters of protecting the country via border control. His off script remarks on religion may end up in court – as will a tape of Rudy Giuliani boasting Trump asked for help creating a Muslim ban wrapped in legal cover.
The sloppy rush to launch the order the moment it was signed prompted Chuck Todd to ask Reince Priebus on Sunday why Homeland Security couldn’t have chewed on the ins and outs of it for a few days so rank and file agents at the airports could properly understand and enforce it. That prompted a ridiculous response from the President’s Chief of Staff. Said Priebus: “People who want to do bad things to Americans would just move up their travel date.” What’s most ignorant about that take is that the people coming from the impacted countries to the US for the first time typically need well more than a year and exhaustive review to obtain documents required to enter.
More upsetting to me at the moment is the rush by Senate republicans to approve Betsy DeVos as Trump’s Secretary of Education.
Not only is DeVos unfit and unqualified for such a massive responsibility, her background and public statements suggest she’ll purposely wreck the cherished if imperfect federal mission to improve the health of public schools at a crucial time.
With the devious guidance of committee chairman Lamar Alexander, DeVos glided through the rigged preliminary phase Tuesday on a 12-11 party line vote. Most distasteful were the pronouncements of two Republicans – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine – who both said they had misgivings about their “yay” votes but advanced the nominee to the full senate in deference to the President.
That’s really disgusting.
Watch Murkowski and Collins vote “no” when the full senate gives DeVos an up or down. Yet, when they had actual power to kill the nomination, they chickened out. When Collins and Murkowski go back home, they’ll have two different votes to brag about depending on the audience. Disgusting.