When President Donald Trump first introduced an executive order on immigration back in January that included a temporary restriction on travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries, it was met with much backlash, and was ultimately blocked by the courts. Trump's team then attempted to introduce a slightly different version of the order, all the while insisting that it wasn't specifically a "travel ban." But on Monday, the president tweeted that, actually, it was a travel ban, and that, actually, he thinks it should be "much tougher" than it currently is. What is the "tougher" version of the travel ban? The Department of Justice has submitted the revised version of the ban to the Supreme Court in the hope that it can be immediately implemented, according to CNN. But on Twitter, Trump argued that he thought the original order was much better, and that he now feels it should go even further.
Trump's Monday morning tweets were a bit of a surprise admission, because the Trump administration has long argued that the order wasn't a "ban," but simply a necessary order regarding immigration. But a day after tweeting that he thought the government "must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people," Trump turned his back on the administration's argument over the use of the term "ban," and said,
People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!
Trump's online about-face came as part of a stream of tweets following the terror attacks in London Saturday, where seven people were killed in incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market, according to The Telegraph. Trump tweeted following the news of the attack, arguing that "we need to be smart, vigilant and tough," and adding, "we need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!" A day later, Trump criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan's comment following the attack, in which he told the public there was “no reason to be alarmed” by the increased presence of armed police offers in the city, according to The Guardian. The president's response? In a tweet, Trump wrote, “at least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’”
According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the mayor responded to Trump's comment by noting that Khan had “more important things to do than respond" to Trump's tweet, before arguing that it was "ill-informed" and "deliberately takes out of context [Khan's] remarks."
Trump hasn't specified exactly what changes should be made to the travel ban to make it sufficiently "tough" enough to be "smart" regarding terrorism, but he did note that immigration officials were continuing the process of "extreme vetting" to keep the country safe. According to The Independent, the administration's latest iteration of "extreme vetting" includes asking anyone looking to obtain a visa entry into the United States for any social media handles they have used in the last five years, as well as "biographical information going back 15 years."
The president might believe that a travel ban is necessary to keep America safe, but on Sunday, former national security adviser Susan Rice said it wouldn't actually help — and that it could possibly make the situation worse. According to Bloomberg, Rice appeared on ABC’s This Week, and said,
There’s a very real risk that by stigmatizing and isolating Muslims from particular countries, and Muslims in general, that we alienate the very communities here in the United States whose cooperation we most need to detect and prevent these home-grown extremists from being able to carry out attacks ... That is, I believe, one of the major reasons why the courts thus far have been very skeptical of the travel ban.
Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Virginia Sen. Mark Warner also spoke to the media over the weekend about the travel ban, and similarly argued that it could make domestic terrorism more of a problem in the United States, not less. According to Bloomberg, Warner told CBS's Face The Nation that the ban is "in effect a slap in the face to Muslim Americans and others, and in many ways might actually incite more incidents," and later told CNN that "in many ways the Muslim American community is better integrated into our society" than in Europe, which actually helps to prevent attacks. Warner then explained that that reality was one reason why "it [troubled him] so much to see the type of tweets the president has put out in the last 12 hours or so."
Trump's admission that he not only considered his executive order to be a travel ban, but that he actually felt that the revised version didn't go far enough, is a pretty major departure to many of the arguments that the administration has advanced in trying to get it passed through the courts. In the wake of the London attacks, it appears that the president is attempting to once again assert a hardline stance in line with his election campaign. But even though he might believe that cracking down on travel and encouraging "extreme vetting" will be the answer to stopping terrorism, it's clear that there is a lot of opposition to his thinking.