President Trump wants Homeland Security, Justice Department to justify immigration ban

The Trump White House won't question whether the ban was justified — now they just need a case for it

By Matthew Rozsa
Published February 24, 2017 4:30PM (EST)
 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump's Muslim ban may have been marred by a botched rollout (which was then poorly defended), its struggles in court, the fact that it has encouraged Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS, or the use of fictitious events like the "Bowling Green massacre" as justifications. None of this is stopping Trump, though, from trying to find some way to support his controversial policy.

And so, he outsourced justifying it to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Both departments have been instructed by the White House to construct a sound legal case justifying the administration's temporary travel ban, according to CNN. This may include construing the definition of terrorist activity to include attacks that only caused injuries and activities related to terrorism such as efforts to join or support terrorist organizations.

"DHS and DOJ are working on an intelligence report that will demonstrate that the security threat for these seven countries is substantial and that these seven countries have all been exporters of terrorism into the United States," an unnamed senior White House official told CNN, hours before Trump got upset about leaks. "The situation has gotten more dangerous in recent years, and more broadly, the refugee program has been a major incubator for terrorism."

Not surprisingly, this support seems to have been prompted by a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against Trump's travel ban. One part of the ruling stated that the president had "no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States."

Intelligence officials are concerned about Trump's decision to move this decision to Homeland Security and Justice, according to CNN, believing that it could result in the politicization of intelligence. CNN also reported that "still others in the intelligence community disagree with the conclusion and are finding their work disparaged by their own department."

The reports come one day after it was revealed that 746 people were held during the first weekend of the travel ban.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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