A few friends of mine seem confused as to why there's backlash against the President for his "travel ban". I don't consider myself particularly liberal, but here's more or less my position, very loosely.
It starts with that I think it's bad policy. I don't merely mean "policy I don't like," but, "policy that will not accomplish what it claims to accomplish". I don't see anything about this order will make America or Americans safe.
- Refugees and immigrants are already well-vetted in the US in a post-9/11 world.
- I'm not aware of any terrorist activity in the United States that has come from the regions the order bans, but I have from plenty of other regions that it does not (for instance, those responsible for the 9/11 attacks the order references).
- It's counter-productive to national security interests to screw with the people that actually like us. This makes intelligence efforts more difficult. Additionally, it makes the President politically toxic to foriegn leaders.
- We don't have a problem with terrorism from refugees or immigrants. The chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year. The chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack by an illegal immigrant is 1 in 10.9 billion per year. (https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis)
Additionally, it breaks existing immigration law for people who have legally immigrated (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_and_Nationality_Act_of_1965). Even if it is within the President's power to break that law -- and that's certainly possible, I don't think the President should without providing good reason. And, to my knowledge, he doesn't.
Prior Presidents have done similar things for clearly outlined reasons. President Carter cancelled Iranian visas in 1980 as a mechanism to facilitate the release of American hostages. He did it while allowing exemptions "for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires." (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=33233) President Obama paused approval of refugee applications for 6 months because "two Iraqis in Kentucky who in May 2011 were arrested and faced federal terrorism charges." (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/29/trumps-facile-claim-that-his-refugee-policy-is-similar-to-obama-in-2011/) There was no travel ban on refugees, however, and there was no ban on green card holders. Refugees merely stayed in holding areas in the US for longer periods of time. I'm relatively okay with those things happening. There were clear reasons and people still got out of harms way.
Taken on its face, President Trumps order just doesn't make sense to me. That being said, I'm not sure I can take anything he says at face value. He lies regularly and openly (e.g. massive voter fraud, the size of his inaugural crowd, why he doesn't release his taxes, that the travel ban is working out nicely, etc.). He's repeated falsehoods about whether persecuted Christians from other countries could immigrate to the US. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-approves-extreme-vetting-of-refugees-promises-priority-for-christians/2017/01/27/007021a2-e4c7-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html)
If I could take what he says at face value, then I'd really have to consider that pre-President Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” (https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/12/07/donald-trump-calls-for-banning-muslims-from-entering-u-s/?_r=0). Doing that would put the order under a new light. President Trump's prioritization of religious minorities in an order directed at Muslim-majority nations could just be him couching religious prejudice in neutral-sounding terms.
So, I'm not just left wondering what things will be added to the vetting process that will make it more "extreme" and acceptable. I'm left wondering whether he's been lying this entire time about the problem itself. I'm left wondering what his motivation here actually is. I'm left wondering whether anyone actually knows. I generally think that what you do about the small things is what you'll do about the big things and that means he'll continually prove to be unfit for the office he presently holds.