Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

NY Times: “Who Hasn’t Trump Banned? People From Places Where He’s Done Business.”

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Kevin Drum has noted the same thing, as I blogged earlier. Richard Painter and Norman Eisen write in the NY Times:

President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries is being rightly challenged in the courts for, among other things, its unconstitutional interference with free exercise of religion and denial of due process. Overlooked in the furor is another troubling aspect of the situation: President Trump omitted from his ban a number of other predominantly Muslim nations where his company has done business. This adds further illegitimacy to one of the most arbitrary executive actions in our recent history, and raises significant constitutional questions.

The seven countries whose citizens are subject to the ban are relatively poor. Some, such as Syria, are torn by civil war; others are only now emerging from war. One thing these countries have in common is that they are places where the Trump organization does little to no business.

By contrast, other neighboring Muslim countries are not on the list, even though some of their citizens pose just as great a risk — if not greater — of exporting terrorism to the United States. Among them are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. A vast majority of people living in these countries, like the people living in the seven subject to the immigration ban, are peaceful and law abiding. But these three countries have exported terror to the United States in the past. They accounted for 18 of the 19 terrorists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 attack on American soil (an attack which was directed by another Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, with the assistance of an Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahri).

A look at other nations with large Muslim populations only reinforces this troubling pattern. Turkey, India and the Philippines could all pose similar risks as the banned countries of origin that concern the president. Yet Mr. Trump has done business in all three places. They, too, are omitted from his list.

Our point is not, of course, that any of these other countries should be added. A country-specific ban, which experts say is an ineffective way to combat terrorism, should not exist. Our government should instead screen all immigrants for potential links to crime or terrorism, as it has long done. Discrimination based on national origin is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate on the basis of religion. And indeed, President Trump has admitted that he wants to prioritize the settling of Christian refugees.

The arbitrary and discriminatory nature of this order is bad enough; but if the president is also considering payoffs to the Trump organization, it’s much worse.

As we have pointed out in a lawsuit we have filed against the president in his official capacity, payments to the president are not only unethical but unconstitutional if they come from foreign governments or entities controlled by foreign governments, such as sovereign wealth funds and state owned banks. The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution prohibits anybody holding a position of trust with the United States government, including the president, from receiving economic benefits from business dealings with foreign governments.

Without President Trump’s tax returns and other information about his privately held businesses, we do not know the extent of the economic benefits he receives from governments of countries that pose a terrorism risk but are not on his immigration ban list. What we do know is that President Trump has generally refused to divest himself of his businesses, to disclose foreign government benefits coming into those businesses and to release his tax returns, and has insisted that simply because he is president, as opposed to some lower official, he “has no conflict of interest.”

And now, only a week into President Trump’s term, we see the devastating consequences of this conflict of interest. It appears that immigrants from countries that can afford to do business with the Trump organization are free to come and go from the United States. Immigrants from countries that cannot afford such transactions may very well be detained at the airport and sent home, where some may perish. . .

Continue reading.

Kevin Drum’s earlier post included:

Not a single Muslim extremist from any of the seven designated countries has ever committed an act of terrorism on American soil.

But residents of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and other US “allies” are exempt, even though their citizens have committed acts of terrorism here. By coincidence, these are also countries where Trump has commercial interests.

The executive order mis-cites the relevant immigration statute. Ed Whelan wonders if this means the Office of Legal Counsel is out of the loop:

The refugee ban is heartbreaking, especially for folks who have sold everything and were literally in the airport waiting to board a plane when they were turned back. But the order also applies to green card holders. These are legal residents. If they were overseas at the time the ban went into effect, they can’t return home.

There’s no excuse for this. The EO could have exempted green card holders. At the very least, it could have gone into effect for them after a warning period. But nobody in the White House gave a damn. So now airports are jammed with legal residents who are trying to return home to their families but are being denied entry.

The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security are allowed to issue exemptions on a case-by-case basis. Does this mean either of them can, or that both have to sign off? Because there is no Secretary of State right now.

Republicans are mostly too callous, or too craven, to speak up about this debacle. I don’t need to bother checking to see what Breitbart and Ann Coulter think. I’m sure they’re thrilled. But even mainstream conservatives are largely unwilling to speak up about this. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has been unable to rouse itself so far to express an opinion. Ditto for the Weekly Standard. I thought the same was true of National Review, but no: they roused themselves to mostly approve of what Trump is doing. Paul Ryan, who once thought this kind of thing was terrible, is also on board. So is Mitch McConnell. And Mike Lee. And most of the rest of the GOP caucus. This is how we got Trump in the first place. Is it really worth it just for another tax cut?

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2017 at 4:05 pm

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