When President Donald Trump first issued his ban on refugees and certain foreign travelers from predominantly Muslim nations in late January, he argued the policy was so essential for national security that he could not give the country a warning before signing it. Many members of his own administration and fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill did not even get to weigh in beforehand.
But since a federal judge put a freeze on Trump’s first executive order in early February, it has taken his administration 31 days to announce an overhauled ban, undermining his arguments that the first one was both urgent and well thought out.
The new ban, for example, will not go into effect for 10 days, unlike the initial order, which Trump said at the time needed to be done without notice or else “the ‘bad’ would rush into our country.”
There are some other key differences from the new executive order and the one Trump signed in late January, which has not been in effect since a court ruled against the government on Feb. 3. Trump’s new order still blocks all refugees for 120 days but does not single out Syrians for an indefinite ban. It bars certain individuals from six Muslim-majority countries for 120 days rather than the original seven ― Iraqis are not affected ― and exempts current visa holders.
These seemingly contradictory positions have emboldened the lawyers who have been in court fighting the original ban. They received ammunition last week when an administration official reportedly told CNN that the release of a new executive order would be pushed back because Trump’s joint address to Congress was so well received.
“If the administration genuinely believed that the ban is urgently needed to protect national security, then one would assume they would not
delay issuing a new order for political reasons,” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who is leading the travel ban challenge in Brooklyn federal court, said in an email last week. “But, as national security experts from both parties have stated, a ban is not the way to protect the country, and is in fact, counterproductive.”
The entire process of redrafting a travel ban seemed like more evidence the executive order wasn’t necessary in the first place, said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which was part of the Brooklyn lawsuit suit ― one of the first filed against the initial order.
“You would think if it were such a necessity for our national security and our safety that they would have issued something quickly,” Hincapié said last week. “But now delaying it because his approval ratings are increasing and they don’t want his approval ratings to drop again ... undermines their arguments that this is actually necessary for national security.”