Goodman: Trump’s travel ban betrays U.S. ideals, yet won’t keep nation safer

People protest against President Trump's ban on immigrants returning from a list of seven countries at the Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday, January 29, 2017. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

People protest against President Trump’s ban on immigrants returning from a list of seven countries at the Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday, January 29, 2017. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

We’re thrilled that more than 200 Palm Beach County citizens rushed to the airport Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from certain Muslim countries.

The overly broad and badly thought-through executive order, issued with sudden swiftness on Friday without consulting the government agencies that are supposed to interpret and enforce it, is billed as an essential tool against terrorism. In reality, it is dividing America against its allies and inflaming our radical-Islamic enemies.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat and former mayor of West Palm Beach, who joined the protest at Palm Beach International Airport, put it aptly:

“Lady Liberty is crying and ISIS is laughing,” she said.

We all want to reduce the threat of terrorism. But this temporary ban on travel from seven Muslim nations (Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen) is more of an emotional response to the threat than a logical one.

Since 9/11, none of the horrific attacks we’ve seen on American soil, such as the mass killing of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, has been committed by a migrant or a refugee, but by American citizens like Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, who was born in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

While Trump and his political adviser Stephen K. Bannon say the 120-day suspension is needed to review vetting procedures, the screening of Syrian refugees is already extensive — a process that takes 18 months to two years.

Trump’s executive order is a gift to his political base, to whom he promised muscular action against Islamic radicalism. But it is an intellectually-thin answer to a gnarly, difficult problem. Our suspicion is that it is a cynical tossing of red meat to Trump voters, rather than a serious effort to make America safer.

It is telling that Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the new secretary of defense, was not consulted during the formation of the order or given the chance to give input. Last summer, Mattis sharply criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration as a move “causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through the international system.”

It is significant that tech-industry leaders, after months of cautiously engaging with the new president, attacked the travel ban. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Uber Technologies Inc. and other companies expressed concern about the immigration order’s effect on their employees, with some executives saying the ban violated their personal and company principles.

The ramifications of tighter immigration rules stretch from retail to finance to meat packing to construction. In Silicon Valley, which relies on skilled foreigners to fill key roles, the order resonates with prominent founders, executives and engineers, many of whom were also foreign-born.

The executive order is a betrayal of America’s traditions of openness, inclusion and opportunity for the world’s oppressed and the world’s talented. The order’s exceptions for Christian refugees veer ominously toward violating the First Amendment’s guarantee that the government will favor no religion over another.

The scores who braved the rain and an uncharacteristic Florida chill on Sunday to demand that America live up to those principles were standing in for millions of Americans who are refusing to sit by while this new administration attempts to lurch the ship of state in a dangerous, self-defeating, ultra-nationalist direction.

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