It's been about 48 hours since President Trump signed his executive order designed to secure the United States from infiltration of terrorists. One component is the 90-day ban on travel from seven countries; anyone traveling or immigrating from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen will be barred from entering the United States.
The left is decrying this list of Muslim-majority countries as a “Muslim ban.” But there's a key fact that is being omitted in the media's coverage of this and the protests: it was President Obama, not President Trump, who first created this list.
If you take a look at the full text of Trump's executive order, you'll notice that none of those seven countries are actually mentioned in it.
Here's what the relevant portion of the EO says:
...I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.
The order, instead of listing countries, mentions “countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12).”
This is a reference to an overwhelmingly bipartisan law, passed in 2015, called the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, which required additional security scrutiny on anyone traveling from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan and any other country designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be a source of legitimate terrorism concerns.
Obama signed it into law in December 2015. In February 2016, Obama's DHS added Yemen, Somalia, and Libya to its list of jeopardized countries, rounding out the seven. In its press release back then:
This is the latest step in a series of actions over the past 15 months to strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program and ensure the Program’s requirements are commensurate with the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters, many of whom are nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries.
So, by 2016, Obama's own Department of Homeland Security had determined that these seven countries were concerning enough to justify additional screening measures for anyone who has visited them or anyone traveling from them.
As DHS spelled out themselves last February, the “growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters” is real.
President Trump, with his executive order barring travel from these countries completely, essentially took the security framework developed by the Obama administration and pumped it with steroids until a thorough review of U.S. security measures is completed (hence the 90 days.)
There's a fair debate over whether such a ban is necessary to keep Americans safe. But to dismiss Trump's action as simply a product of Islamophobia is not accurate - unless President Obama was Islamophobic as well.
In addition, as the White House pointed out, there are dozens of Muslim-majority countries, like Indonesia, Turkey, and Pakistan, which are not included and whose nationals are still free to travel to the United States. There is no “Muslim ban.”
But screaming that phrase anyway comes from a place of emotion, certainly not from facts. Hopefully reporters will take that into consideration.