Why Is Trump Expanding The Travel Ban Now?
Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images
January 22, 2020

Strange timing, even for President Trump -- or maybe it's not so strange:

President Donald Trump may expand his controversial travel ban with an announcement expected as early as Monday, the three-year anniversary of the original order, which targeted several majority-Muslim nations.

The list of countries is not yet final and could be changed, but nations under consideration for new restrictions include Belarus, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, according to two people familiar with the matter.

And, of course, it's baffling from a foreign policy point of view:

The restrictions could apply only to certain government officials ... or certain types of visas.

Nonetheless, any new restrictions are likely to strain ties with the affected countries, some of which assist the U.S. on issues like fighting terrorism, and some of which Washington has been trying to court for strategic reasons.

But why now? Trump is being impeached. When Bill Clinton was on the verge of being impeached, his administration brought Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat together to negotiate what became known as the Wye River Memorandum. Trump is also running for reelection. When Richard Nixon was running for reelection, he initiated an opening to China. That's what you're supposed to do under these circumstances: attempt big, statesmanlike things that will be popular with a wide cross section of the public.

Instead -- just in time for his upcoming State of the Union address, which you'd think would also inspire Trump to reach for broadly popular policies -- we get an expansion of a policy that's always been divisive:

... there has never previously been a consensus on whether Americans approve or disapprove, with all polling done in February 2017 -- when the ban was first proposed -- split along party lines....

CNN's polling back in early 2017 found a majority opposed to the ban of "travel to the US for the next three months by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries," and suspension of "the US refugee program for four months while reducing the total number of refugees the US will accept this year" with 53% in opposition and 47% in favor....

An NBC/WSJ poll taken the same month found 44% saying the ban is necessary and 45% saying it is not.... Respondents were asked whether the temporary ban is necessary as a temporary "safeguard against terrorism" or whether it isn't necessary because "it goes against American principles." ...

A Quinnipiac poll conducted in February last year found a large majority approved of the court's decision to block President Trump's executive order on immigration, with 59% saying they approve and 38% disapproving. A telling statistic, it shows that many would rather a court stop this from continuing.

... people were split on whether the travel ban will make the US more or less safe. Quinnipiac's shows that divide with 37% saying more safe, 35% less safe, and a quarter saying it won't make a difference. CNN asked the question differently, not offering that the ban wouldn't make a difference as an explicit option. In that instance, 41% said it would make the country safer and 46% said it would make the country less safe. CBS found the two tied.

But in Trump's Fox News/Mar-a-Lago bubble, I assume everyone loves the travel ban, so this must seem like an excellent time for it.

I anticipate many similar moves from Trump between now and November. He apparently believes that people who are already willing to crawl through ground glass to vote for him will be even more willing if he gives them extra doses of MAGAtude over the next ten months. Has anyone explained to him that it's not like having a hotel or casino, where a really satisfied guest might decide to spend even more money? Does he realize that every deplorable can vote only once?

Posted with permission of No More Mr. Nice Blog

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