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Emil Amok!

Travel Ban Halt: A setback for Trump, relief for Filipinos

/ 02:08 AM March 18, 2017

Filipinos should be happy Donald Trump, the current occupant of the White House, doesn’t know that the Islamic world includes Asians. If he really wanted to stop terrorism, he wouldn’t be messing around with trying to get a measly travel ban against six predominantly Muslim countries on the books.

He’d be wiser to look instead at worldwide at acts of terrorism. Maybe the Asian hotspots.

He might even look at that group that has been a burr in the side of Philippine politics for decades, the Abu Sayyaf, who recently beheaded a German hostage. He did once, during the campaign, but then he conveniently forgot all about it.


Trump isn’t paying attention because he’s all for show. Remember, he’s “The Apprentice” politician.

He’d rather push on fighting terrorism against inconsequential countries that aren’t even connected to known significant acts of terrorism.

It’s the bully’s play. But it also risks turning the Muslim world against the United States.

That’s what happens when you pick on the innocent travelers from these small countries, who already get vetted.

When you move for “extreme vetting,” you don’t score points with the Muslim world. But you do score with a certain segment of white U.S. voters by pushing xenophobia at home.

Trump’s using fear to bond voters to his brand of extreme nationalism. It’s his way of looking like he’s doing something about terrorism, when in fact, he’s doing nothing toward moving toward that goal.

He is, however, harming the lives of real U.S. citizens and their immigrant friends and families.

That’s how to understand his extreme desire to get some kind of travel ban through.


But this is America, the model for the Philippines and democracy, and the checks and balances have worked.

Trump, the authoritarian corporatist, just never figured his executive power was so limited, and hat would be checked by a fair-minded judiciary.

This week, it was Hawaii’s Derrick Kahala Watson’s–an Asian American of Native Hawaiian descent and a federal judge in Honolulu—turn to say no to Trump.

Just hours before, a travel ban was to take hold, Watson granted two plaintiffs, the state of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh, the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, the protection from harm a travel ban would cause them.

For Hawaii, it was the harm to the state’s universities, their students and scholars, and their right to collect tuition from those impacted by the ban. There was also harm to the state’s No.1 industry, tourism.

For Elshikh, a U.S. citizen, the harm was the inability to bring mother-in-law from Syria to America. He applied for a visa in 2015 and found out it was blocked in 2017 because of the first travel ban. Then when the second one hit, he figured he’d never get his mother-in-law to Hawaii in the short-term.

That’s actually a harm. Judge Watson recognized it, just as he saw that Elshikh’s family, with all its young kids weren’t kidding when they said the ban on grandma was “devastating” to their family.

They even wondered why people with their religious beliefs would be discriminated against. That’s not the way of the Constitution.

Elshikh was the human face of the lawsuit. And it had to have some impact. This was not some theoretical debate on the harm of the travel ban.

The Trump administration tried to mask it all.

The funniest thing was the claim by the government attorney’s that the travel ban wasn’t a Muslim ban because the six countries were a small fraction of the world’s 50 Muslim-majority nations. And that even non-Muslims in those 90-plus percent Muslim countries were part of the ban.

Said the judge: “The illogic of the government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”

Only takes one to prove an executive’s xenophobic overreach.

Let’s see if Trump learns his lesson. If he has, he should immediately cut the hateful rhetoric, and drop the travel ban idea. Period.

Extreme vetting is unnecessary, doesn’t work and is unconstitutional.

The first travel ban was barred by the 9th Circuit court when the state of Washington sued. And now the second travel ban has been stopped by Hawaii.

But Trump sounded angry on Wednesday night, saying the judge’s denial of the ban made the country look weak.

Weak? It made it look like democracy still works in America.

But Trump doesn’t appear to be giving up, promising to take his travel ban to the Supreme Court.

Why should we expect anything else?

This is the man who insists on attacking President Obama in what is turning into another “birther” type stance—insisting that the Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, despite a lack of any evidence.

He’s the man with the bromance with Putin, despite Russian hacking charges; a harsh budget that cuts the poor, the arts and the environment; a health care plan that will drop 24 million from their insurance; an ill-conceived travel ban that is his two-pronged attack against immigration and “terrorism.”

And this is what’s going to make America great again?

By the time he’s through, America will be unrecognizable.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. He writes from Northern California. Contact:

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Derrick Kahala Watson, Islamophobia, Ismail Elshikh, Trump travel ban halt
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