FOUR HOURS before President Trump’s ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries expired on Sunday, the White House issued a new proclamation — this time also barring entry into the United States by certain citizens of North Korea, Venezuela and Chad. Now in its third iteration, the travel ban has been steadily watered down from Mr. Trump’s promised “Muslim ban.” But the fact that some Christians are now also forbidden from entering the country does little to recommend the policy.
The second version of Mr. Trump’s travel ban, revised after the courts blocked the first from going into effect, called for a temporary halt on travel while the Department of Homeland Security prepared a report on the adequacy of vetting procedures across the globe. This third order limits entry from countries that the department determined did not provide sufficient information to confirm that their citizens were not security threats.
Of the majority-Muslim nations included in the second order, travel from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia remains limited, while restrictions have been removed from Sudan. Travelers from Iraq are not barred from the United States but will face “additional scrutiny.” The ban is a patchwork of different standards for different countries: Travel from Syria and North Korea is entirely banned, while only certain Venezuelan government officials will be denied entry.
Mr. Trump’s latest order may be the result of a more considered process than were the first two versions. But the end product is still lacking in sense. Travel to the United States from North Korea is practically nonexistent — so why ban it? Likewise, the order indicates that Venezuelan officials will be barred as a punitive measure given their failure to cooperate — but what does this have to do with national security, the ban’s ostensible purpose? And why include Chad, a U.S. ally crucial to military efforts against the Boko Haram terrorist organization? It may be the case that Chad’s government failed to provide the requested vetting documentation. But if Mr. Trump’s main concern is counterterrorism, the blow to the U.S.-Chad partnership means that this designation will do more harm than good.
There’s no evidence that limiting travel from any of these countries will have a significant effect on Americans’ safety. Even the Department of Homeland Security concluded shortly after the first travel ban that a person’s citizenship has little to do with the likelihood of their posing a threat. Research shows that the majority of recent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have been carried out by Americans.
It says a great deal about Mr. Trump’s leadership that we have little reason to presume the addition of Venezuela and North Korea to be anything more than a fig leaf to disguise a would-be “Muslim ban.” Meanwhile, the clock is still ticking toward the Oct. 24 expiration date of the president’s ban on refugee entry into the country. We must hope that any revised refugee policy will be more than prejudice in search of justification.