News and Commentary

Travel Ban Unconstitutional? Well, Democrats Did It, Too.

Amid a furor over President Trump’s temporary ban on immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, it’s worth taking a brief look back at the historic precedence for such a move.

Although almost no one mentions it, two Democratic presidents have done the exact same thing in the modern era, both times for much longer periods.

After the 2009 discovery that two al Qaeda terrorists were living as refugees in Bowling Green, Ky., President Obama took action. “As a result of the Kentucky case, the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News – even for many who had heroically helped U.S. forces as interpreters and intelligence assets,” ABC New reported in 2013. “One Iraqi who had aided American troops was assassinated before his refugee application could be processed, because of the immigration delays, two U.S. officials said. In 2011, fewer than 10,000 Iraqis were resettled as refugees in the U.S., half the number from the year before, State Department statistics show.”

ABC called the U.S. refugee screening system “flawed” and said an investigation “showed that Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army’s Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.”

Another refugee was found to have participated in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack against Americans in Iraq. “We need to take this as a case study and draw the right lessons from it, and not just high-five over this,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero said to ABC. “How did a person who we detained in Iraq — linked to an IED attack, we had his fingerprints in our government system — how did he walk into America in 2009?”

President Jimmy Carter took a similar action when he banned Iranians from entering the United States. After 52 Americans were taken hostage in 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, Carter cut diplomatic ties with Iran, kicked all diplomats out of the U.S. and banned Iranians from entering the country.

“The steps I have ordered today are those that are necessary now,” Carter said in announcing the move. “Other actions may become necessary if these steps do not produce the prompt release of the hostages.”

Carter also ordered federal officials to “invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.”

The supposedly unbiased PolitiFact tries to explain away Carter’s move in a piece titled “Why Trump’s Muslim ban isn’t like Jimmy Carter’s actions on Iranians,” but any impartial reader wil conclude that the two actions are nearly identical.

“Carter acted against Iranian nationals, not an entire religion,” the website says, not bothering to note that Trump’s action — targeted on Twitter as #MuslimBan — bans refugees from countries and does not discriminate against religion. The site also poo-pooed Carter’s move, saying: “Carter was ratcheting up diplomatic pressure in a fairly traditional process of crisis management.”

There’s other precedent, as well: In 1882, President Chester Arthur, a Republican, banned “skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining” from entering the U.S. for 10 years. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, limited the number of Jewish refugees amid fears that Nazi spies could enter. In 1939, a ship carrying hundreds of Jews was refused entry. More than a quarter of the passengers perished in the Holocaust.

Of course, FDR also signed the order to inter some 120,000 Japanese in camps across America after the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 60 percent of those imprisoned were American citizens.

But liberals never mention those cases, and don’t look for the mainstream media to note them, either. But now you know.