Muslim Ban 2.0: a cynical sidestep by Trump's lawyers?

Muslim Ban 2.0: a cynical sidestep by Trump's lawyers?
A revised version of new US immigration restrictions against several Muslim-majority countries was unveiled by Donald Trump on Monday, with a few amendments but still ever divisive.
3 min read
07 Mar, 2017
Trump's Muslim ban led to large-scale protests in the US [Getty]
US President Donald Trump unveiled a revised version of his infamous "Muslim ban" on Monday with one notable exception from the previous order.

Missing from the list of banned nationalities is Iraq; most likely due to pressure from the defence department who argue Baghdad is playing a critical role in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Still on the list are six Muslim-majority countries - Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia - whose nationals will be banned from entering the US for a further three months.

Many believe the order's focus on terrorism and "protecting the US" is contradictory as many nationalities on the list have never been involved in any acts of terror against the US.

Iran, Syria and Sudan are accused of being "state sponsors of terror" while the others allegedly acted as "safe havens" for operatives.

Yet the decision to exlude Iraq from the list - which should be roundly applauded - does not discount from the fact that this was the birthplace of IS. The militants, although embattled, are still firmly embedded in the country.

Baghdad has been successful in cutting IS' territory down in size thanks largely to the US-led coalition's air support in the campaign. 

But the capital has also witnessed more terror attacks in recent months from IS militants than probably any other country on the list.

Experts say the devil is in the detail with amendments looking to circumvent decisions by courts to block the order last time around.

Legal language

So what else differs with the executive order? Experts say the devil is in the detail with amendments looking to circumvent decisions by courts to block the order last time around.

The new attempt has seen one crucial change, which allowed courts to rule the last order illegal and forced Trump back to the drawing board.

Existing visas will be honoured, which potentially opens the doors to 60,000 people from six nationalities who previously had their visas revoked. 
Yet the new order - provocatively titled "Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry to the United States" - is still filled with menacing - and bitter - language about extra-stingent border controls and other additional screening measures.

The new bill also toned down Washington's distinction of religious minorities from others nationals of the Muslim-majority countries.

Again experts believe this is again a cynical legal ploy to make it more difficult to challenge the order on grounds of discrimination.

As it also affects fewer people living in the US, this too will be serve as another obstacle for legal experts looking to overturn the ban.

Trump's lawyers have essentially packaged the new order as a tough but patriotic law to "protect" US citizens from the threat of terror.

"Members of Congress have expressed concerns about screening and vetting procedures following recent terrorist attacks in this country and in Europe," the order warns.

No doubt some will buy it, but others believe it is still in essence a discriminatary measure looking to ban Muslims - or at least some - from entering the US.

"A watered down ban is still a ban," said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, according to Reuters

"Despite the administration's changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited, and un-American. It must be repealed."