Travel From Countries Harboring Terrorists Should Be Restricted

Scott Powell Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute
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President Trump has been working at breakneck speed since inauguration, and perhaps more care should have been exercised in drafting the executive order imposing a temporary halt on admittance of refugees and a 90-day travel ban from seven designated countries known for lawlessness and harboring terrorists.

Were it redrafted, the travel ban could stop the potential bad guys, but provide entry for existing green card holders and those with prior visa documentation.  Nevertheless, the President had full and proper authority to issue such an order under the powers vested by the Constitution and the provisions of section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Additionally, it was Barack Obama who had originally flagged these seven nations as “countries of particular concern,” and it goes without saying that the vast majority of Americans want appropriate steps taken to prevent terrorists’ entry into the United States.

So why didn’t the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals do its job and recommend modifications rather than  simply upholding Seattle Judge James Robart’s restraint of President Trump’s executive order—the spirit and intent of which was to protect American citizens?  The answer is politics, and specifically the politics of the Left, which has long had sympathy for many who would do harm to the U.S.  A significant number of the American Left take the position that “an enemy of the United States is our friend” for they share the common goal of breaking down the traditional values and institutions in America as a precursor to their establishing a new socialist order.

The Left is now ascendant in the Democrat Party and it has the most megaphones in the so-called mainstream media.  The Left not only dominates popular culture, but it’s also making new inroads into business and sports. Just ask Macy’s, Target and the NFL.  In the end, the main bulwark against the Left’s efforts to transform America is the U.S. Constitution, the judiciary committed to upholding the rule of law, and law enforcement itself.  Is it any wonder why the Black Lives Matter movement was more animated by discrediting and undermining the police and law enforcement than it was concerned about racial injustice?

The decision of the 9th Circuit serves as reminder that there are a significant number of men and women in black serving in the judiciary whose progressive judicial philosophy guides their decisions.  Just as many of the professors, reporters and commentators in the universities and the media now feel their mission is to indoctrinate rather than to inform and teach, many of the judges appointed to the Federal Bench in the last 25 years also feel inclined to work around the law and the Constitution to advance the progressive political agenda—even giving favor to enemies of the United States over the security interests of American citizens.

For most Americans paying attention, the obvious was stated in Trump’s executive order:

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States.  The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

Yet Judge Robart refuted this assertion in making his ruling against President Trump’s executive order, explicitly stating that “there had been no arrest of foreign nationals in the United States” from any of the seven countries—Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya–since 9/11. The 9th Circuit Court upheld Judge Robart’s order, also stating that there was “no evidence” that of any of those nations had produced a terror threat to the U.S.  What?

Robart may not have had the resources or felt it appropriate to perform research for either side before making his ruling.  But one might expect that during the five or six days that the 9th Circuit was deliberating, court clerks and staff would corroborate the assertion in Trump’s executive order that “numerous foreign-born individuals [from these seven countries] have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since 9/11.”

It should be common knowledge that the vast majority of terror cases since 9/11 involve foreign-born parties.  In fact, a June 2016 report from the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and National Interest documents the crimes and arrests of 72 individuals whose country of origin was explicitly among every one of the seven terrorist-haven countries named in the Trump executive order— with the greatest number coming from Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

President Trump will undoubtedly prevail in overturning the stay of this executive order. While  a minor setback, it’s also a wake-up call for his administration to anticipate opposition—even sabotage—at every turn and to be nuanced and fully prepared to overcome obstructionism and prevail in and against the Left’s theaters of political warfare—whether made-for-TV rent-a-mob demonstrations, fake news from the mainstream media,  federal bureaucracies peppered with progressive holdovers, or stepped-up legal battles behind courtroom doors.

Scott Powell is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org