Last week, President Donald Trump signed a new, revised version of his controversial travel ban. There are some key differences, including the exclusion of Iraq in the ban, no indefinite ban for Syrian refugees and no mention of prioritizing religious minorities.
Green card holders, visa holders and lawful permanent residents should be unaffected by this new ban, and there is a short period before it goes into effect on March 16. These changes mostly address major concerns with the first order. Eliminating the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees seems like a reasonable revision that will alleviate the concern the ban is going too far in denying refuge to those seeking safety.
No mention of religious minorities means this version is less overtly a Muslim ban — since these are all Muslim-majority countries, giving priority to religious minorities was explicitly prioritizing anyone who was not Muslim. Leaving green card holders alone makes this order more legal and slightly less likely to be blocked again, and less likely to elicit such a negative response in general. Allowing 10 days before the ban goes into effect gives people a short adjustment period and lets the order be reviewed and discussed. Iraq is no longer featured because they are fighting ISIS and we want their continued support.
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All of these changes may make perfect sense, but make no mistake, they are not acts of kindness. Trump and his cronies didn’t change the order because they realized parts of it were wrong, they changed it because they realized they couldn’t get away with the original version. They pushed their luck with the first Muslim ban, adding clearly discriminatory language and violating the law.
It was an experiment. They didn’t need to get that entire ban implemented, they just needed to see which parts they could get past us. When people rallied to protest at airports and the ban was met with strong opposition and blocked, they knew they hadn’t succeeded … yet. That particular defeat was only the beginning. Now, they’ve taken out the lines that didn’t work and tried again.
In comparison to the first ban, this one seems reasonable, even though the only concessions they’ve made are things they couldn’t have in the first place. It only appears Trump is acquiescing to the wishes of the people. The intention is the same, the underlying problem of Islamophobia and criminalizing refugees and immigrants is the same.
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The difference is now it will be harder to fight. After the first ban, people will be more likely to view this one favorably since it appears objectively better. When we continue to fight it, the rhetoric will become, “But they fixed it, why won’t you accept it now?”
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s giving up. The American Civil Liberties Union announced it will fight this new ban, and the state of Hawaii is joining in too, along with groups and protesters around the country. It’s not hard to see the true intention behind this ban. We have to keep resisting these attempts to deny safety and basic dignity to people looking for a better life. As long as they keep trying, we’ll keep pushing back.
Gwynna Norton ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in mathematics.