Trump figured out that the courts won’t go along with what looks like a blanket ban on Muslims, so he decided to include some non-Muslim countries, says Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The Trump administration released a new travel ban by way of an executive order on Sunday. This order replaces one that Trump had submitted last March, in which travelers from six Muslim-majority countries were barred from entering the United States. That ban had received various legal challenges and was set to expire this October. The new ban adds three more countries and makes the travel ban indefinite. Now, the countries added this time around are Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. Five previously targeted countries were Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. Sudan was removed from the list. Joining me now to discuss this latest version of Trump’s Travel Ban is Glen Ford. Glen is the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report. He’s also the author of the book, “The Big Lie.” Glen, thank you so much for joining us. GLEN FORD: Thank you for having me. SHARMINI PERIES: So, Glen, the US Supreme Court was supposed to hold hearings on October 10th with regard to Trump’s original travel ban, but the hearings were canceled on Monday in light of this new travel ban. So, how do you think the courts will proceed on this new ban? GLEN FORD: Well, that’s the whole purpose of the new ban, that was to make the old ban, which was knocked down by the courts, moot. So, they have to start over again on both sides. So, Trump is having a hard time putting his anti-Muslim policies into law. You’ll remember that back in December, that after he was elected president but before he was sworn in, Trump said that he wanted to keep all Muslims out of the country. In his words, to keep them out until the United States “Figures out what the hell has been going on.” Well, what he’s figured out is that the courts will not go along with what looks like a blanket ban on Muslims. So, he’s included some non-Muslim countries, as you said, and he’s added the African nation of Chad which doesn’t seem to be there for any political reasons, but because it doesn’t have the equipment at its airport that conforms to some kind of standard, and the Trump administration can say that it’s using all kinds of different national security criteria to put together this list, and that Chad does not fit the national security measure and that’s why it’s on there. Therefore, this is not a, kind of, an anti-Muslim ban. So, the Trump administration’s legal hurdle is to show that this is a national security ban and not a religious ban. In terms of North Korea, that really doesn’t have any impact on visitation to the United States because very, very few North Koreans come to the United States. There are lots of Venezuelans and lots of very rich Venezuelans in the US. Miami’s their preferred destination but the Trump restrictions only apply to members of Venezuela’s socialist government. Now, the Democrats, of course, have been investing lots of political capital in denouncing Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim travel and immigration policies, but these same Democrats have by and large failed to oppose the wars, including Barack Obama’s wars that are the cause of so many people from especially Syria, and Libya, and Yemen and Somalia, the cause for the displacement for these millions of people. Syria, 1/3 of the country’s population is displaced either internally or externally and 400,000 at least are dead. But in his last year in office, President Obama only allowed 13,000 Syrians to come to this country. So, the United States creates far more displaced people in the world than it allows to settle or visit here. In fact, it creates displacement wherever its military touches. SHARMINI PERIES: Right. These court challenges, Glen, that were underway that has now, some of them, been dropped in light of the new set of travel bans and the countries. Now, what’s stopping them from proceeding with these cases because they were, in fact, in effect, and they did violate the Constitution on the basis of religion? Do we know why they have been dropped in terms of court? GLEN FORD: Well, it’s very obvious to any lawyer, to any Constitutional lawyer why they were dropped. The issue has been rendered moot in terms of the last policy. The last policy is gone. The ACLU says that it sees through this charade and that this set of restrictions is really the same one with a few fine-tunings to give it the appearance of being national security and not religion. So, the ACLU is signaling that they’re going to sue and they’re gonna sue on the same grounds. Remember it was Trump’s own statements that were dredged up in the court proceedings. Statements that were relevant to the policy because it showed what his intention was. Why the restrictions were created the way they were. So, I suppose that Donald Trump’s own words, now being part of history are still good evidence of his intentions with his new restrictions. SHARMINI PERIES: Right. Now, the previous one was limited to 90 days but this one is indefinite. Give us a sense of what this will mean and the impact it will have. GLEN FORD: Well, basically he’s not saying that this is an emergency measure, so that will just be in effect while the administration figures out what to do. What they’re saying is that this is a permanent—as permanent as such things get—a permanent part of the policy of the administration. That there are no time limits to it. Now, that really has legal implications in terms of how it is defended. But in the real world it doesn’t have many ramifications at all, in that the administration can change its policy anytime it sees fit, especially if the policy is supposedly based on national security. He can always allege that national security conditions have changed in general or for any one of those countries. SHARMINI PERIES: Glen, with all of that’s going on in terms of the Iran nuclear deal, and Trump’s attempt to withdraw from that plan, and the kind of hysteria he’s creating, and the war drums that are being beaten by his administration and the military industrial complex out there, in terms of Iran. Many people say that this ban is really about banning and restricting the Iranian community’s mobility back-and-forth between the United States and Iran. What do you make of that? GLEN FORD: Well, I don’t think, at least a cursory look at the policy, it doesn’t seem to say that they’re going to be really, really harsh restrictions on the ability of Iranian students to come to this country. That is, how do you undermine Iran? US policy has been to make all these war noises but at the same time to make special appeals to this Iranian middle-class, which US policymakers believe—and I don’t know if it’s true or not—but US policymakers believe is actually a pro-Western, potentially constituency in Iran. So how do you create, domestically a situation in which Iran is seen as the devil incarnate and at the same time woo a constituency, a large one, within Iran? That’s been the kind of mix that US policy has tried to balance in the past, and it seems that these restrictions attempt to do that as much as they can also. SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Glen. I thank you so much for joining us today. GLEN FORD: Thank you. SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.