On Tuesday, DHS Secretary John Kelly said it’s very possible the Department of Homeland Security will require social media, passwords and financial records before they will allow visitors, refugees and immigrants from “certain countries” to enter the United States.
Kelly also said taking the word of visitors, immigrants or refugees is unacceptable to him and especially to Mr. Trump. This was on the same day, the DOJ tried to convince the 9th Circuit Trump’s Muslim ban isn’t really a Muslim ban. So of course, Kelly made a point of saying that while these proposals are only under consideration, the intent behind them isn’t about religion. It’s a point he tried to reinforce during an interview with NPR. During that interview, Kelly said the seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen can’t vet their citizens to provide DHS with “information that we’re comfortable with.” He went on to say it is possible residents of those countries could be required to provide the information so officials can “get on those websites to see what they’re looking at.”
America knows a great deal about the concerns with taking someone’s word on their background and finances. Donald Trump continues to refuse to release tax returns for America to vet his financial history and who he has financial ties to. Mitch McConnell whined about Democratic obstructionism, the fact is several of Trump’s cronies refused to provide the standard information for responsible Senators to assess their suitability for the positions they were seeking.
To be fair, the possibility of requiring visitors’ to submit passwords was considered and never adopted by top officials at DHS under the Obama Administration. It was also a less intrusive scope than the policy currently under consideration.
According to an internal department memo obtained by MSNBC in 2015 and tweeted by Ari Melber at the time, the scope was limited to “purposes of verifying information related to applications and petitions.” That’s very different from seeing what visitors “are looking at” on the internet.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) December 17, 2015
The claim that this is about vetting people because they come from countries where governments don’t keep suitable records or because there is a presence of terrorist organizations might be credible if not for the previously stated intent to ban Muslims.
Rudolph Giuliani’s admission that Trump asked him how to ban Muslims legally and the omission of Saudi Arabia in Trump’s EO, where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from make Trump’s intent in his EO obvious to anyone with a functioning brain.
Even with a documented history of the DHS’ attempt to narrower version of a similar proposal, Kelly’s denials of the obvious religious connection are no more persuasive than those of Trump or anyone else in the administration.
Kelly, like Mike Pence, is Trump’s rhetorical janitor. Cleaning up the messes that come with Trump’s hate filled statements. No matter how hard Kelly tries, the stench of Trump’s hatred for Muslims can’t be camouflaged.
This should be enough for anyone with an understanding of American values or simple human decency to be concerned.
As it stands, Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban is taking a toll on tourism. Limited data on tourism to the United State shows that of 122 countries, Russia is the only one where demand for flight searches to visit the United States has gone up. According to Hopper’s data, weekly international U.S.-bound flight searches decreased 17% in 94 of the 122 countries after the travel ban was announced. It’s doubtful a possibility that visitors will have to hand over social media, passwords, website reading lists and financial records will help.
Trump may be fooling his most ardent followers and his inner circle. However, most of America knows this has everything to do with a likely unconstitutional discrimination toward Muslims.