The first executive order barred residents of seven majority Muslim nations from entering the U.S. was met with widespread protest. Eventually, it was cut down by a federal appeals court, but Trump has vowed to sign a new order that accomplished similar goals.
According to White House officials, the order — which was set to be signed this week — is being held off to give positive coverage of Trump's address to a join session of Congress more play in the media. As some have pointed out, that is an odd departure from the administration's previous claim that the order was pushed hastily because dangerous people would otherwise rush into the country.
Others have speculated there is another reason the new order is being delayed: it lacks national security rationale.
The DHS document leaked to MSNBC this week pokes holes in the Trump administration's reasoning for enacting the executive order, which they've said is to institute a better vetting process for immigrants and refugees. According to the document, intelligence officials assess that "most foreign-born, US-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns."
In other words, most foreign-born terrorists who have committed criminal acts in the United States did not harbor terrorist intentions or beliefs when they entered the country; they were radicalized here. On top of that, as we've reported, the vetting procedures we already have in place are extreme, rigorous, and quite successful. Many people, including refugees, are left waiting up to two years to enter the country.
It's the second DHS document in a week that has contradicted the White House's rationale for enacting the ban. Last week, the Wall Street Journal shared an intelligence report that concluded a "country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity."
Putting these two conclusions together from the DHS has left many people wondering if the travel ban — which some called a "Muslim ban" because it focuses on Muslim-majority countries and prioritization of non-Muslim refugees — has an alternative agenda.
As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent put it, "taken together, they appear to mean that DHS's analysts believe that singling out those countries makes little sense and that the problem in preventing terrorism by immigrants does not lie in our vetting procedures as they are, which already screen out the immediate threats."
What's the most important takeaway from these DHS leaks? For some, it will hopefully be that it's not fair (or smart) to judge whether a person is a threat based on their country of origin... or their religion.
Cover photo: Shutterstock / a katz