Donald Trump

To Stop Terrorism, Trump Wants to Block Immigration From Most Countries

"I'm talking territory instead of Muslim," he says, but adds that the Constitution "doesn't necessarily give us the right to commit suicide."


NBC News

In an interview on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday, Donald Trump offered yet another version of his plan to fight terrorism by restricting immigration. What was originally "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" has now become a suspension of "immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place."

What does it mean for a country to be "compromised by terrorism"? Since Trump said "we have problems in Germany and we have problems with France," he seems to have in mind not just countries that sponsor terrorism or host terrorist groups but any country where terrorism occurs. That would cover the vast majority of countries, including the United States itself and U.S. allies such as Australia, Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, and Israel. According to a 2015 report from the Institute for Economics and Peace, just 45 of the 162 countries it examined had no terrorist attacks in 2014. Hence when Meet the Press host Chuck Todd suggested that the latest iteration of Trump's exclusion proposal "feels like a slight rollback," Trump responded that "you could say it's an expansion."

The main advantage of the new plan, Trump said, is that "I'm looking now at territories." He explained the lesson he learned from criticism of his original plan, which was condemned even by the man who later became his running mate. "People were so upset when I used the word Muslim," he said. "'Oh, you can't use the word Muslim.' Remember this. And I'm OK with that, because I'm talking territory instead of Muslim." But if the territory talk is simply a cover for excluding Muslims, as Trump seems to be suggesting, that would be equally unconstitutional. As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, "intent to discriminate on the basis of religion, even hidden behind pretextual religious neutrality, violates the Establishment Clause and Equal Protection."

Trump's treatment of the constitutional issue gives you a sense of how much he cares about civil liberties:

Our Constitution is great. But it doesn't necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, OK? Now, we have a religious, you know, everybody wants to be protected. And that's great. And that's the wonderful part of our Constitution. I view it differently.

Why are we committing suicide? Why are we doing that? But you know what? I live with our Constitution. I love our Constitution. I cherish our Constitution.

The phrase Trump vaguely remembers is "the Constitution is not a suicide pact," a favorite refuge of authoritarians. Taken literally, it means the government should not be so punctilious about following the Constitution that the nation's very existence is threatened. But terrorism does not represent an existential threat to the United States, so even if Trump's proposal were an effective way to stop terrorism, failing to adopt it would not amount to anything like suicide. In practice, however, the phrase is often applied to situations that fall far short of existential threats.

The first time the phrase was used in a Supreme Court opinion, for instance, the threat was an inflammatory speech that a suspended Catholic priest named Arthur Terminiello delivered to the Christian Veterans of America in Chicago. Terminiello was convicted of disorderly conduct based on a jury instruction that equated that offense with behavior that "stirs the public to anger, invites dispute, brings about a condition of unrest, or creates a disturbance." Overturning Terminiello's conviction in a 1949 opinion by Justice William O. Douglas, the Supreme Court noted that "a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute." In fact, the Court said, speech may "best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea."

Dissenting from that decision, Justice Robert Jackson perceived "a danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact." But the real danger is the one Douglas described: that treating words as disorderly conduct when they upset people effectively criminalizes controversial speech. In fact, the standard at issue in Terminiello v. Chicago could easily be applied to Donald Trump's speeches, especially given the violence at some of his rallies. Trump would rightly object if he were arrested for saying things police deemed excessively provocative. But that is where loose talk about suicidal civil liberties leads.

The fact that Trump deems it necessary to invoke suicide in this context suggests he worries that his immigration plan would be unconstitutional even if he didn't "use the word Muslim." But that would depend largely on what Trump means by "proven vetting mechanisms." Elaborating on the concept, he explained that he has in mind "extreme vetting," which he described as a "tough word." Since Trump himself has no clear idea what he is proposing, it's hard to say whether it would be constitutional.

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  1. It was quietly pointed out to Trump by people close to him or recently brought into the fold that what he was suggesting was far more controversial and likely unconstitutional (or would be ruled so by his enemies), so he has now adopted one based on territories for which there is more solid precedents.

    Nothing Trump says here means much beyond that he is trying to differentiate his new position from the previous in a ham handed way.

    As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, “intent to discriminate on the basis of religion, even hidden behind pretextual religious neutrality, violates the Establishment Clause and Equal Protection.”

    This is laughable coming from progressives because pretty much their entire economic agenda relies upon giving the state all benefit of the doubt to use its designated powers. So the power to tax can freely, per our Supreme Court, be used to bypass restrictions on federal power.

    1. Also laughable considering how readily they toss aside the free exercise clause when it comes to forcing Christian bakers to bake wedding cakes for gay weddings. Because that is just so much more important.

  2. Moreover, the argument that restrictions on immigration based on religions violates the Establishment Clause is quite odd. The Establishment Clause refers to citizens – not foreigners. And our federal government is given a free hand in its foreign policy to violate all sorts of other rights. I don’t see anyone arguing that the Establishment Clause prevents our government from sucking up the content of an entire country’s phone calls or other data, and different courts okayed the Bush administrations arguments on due process (or the lack thereof) for terrorists.

    Moreover, discriminating based on political beliefs isn’t really Constitutional, either. It’s a pretty clear violation of free speech rights/the First to do that, as well. But we have a long history of doing it.

    Perhaps this is what happens when you develop a conception of law that has no internal consistency. It becomes all about the whims of the courts on that day, and what rights proper thinking people deem fit for protections and which they do not.

    1. Well yeah, the establishment clause prevents congress from making a law establishing a state religion. Hard to see how that applies here.

    2. It’s an odd reading; any discriminatory (in the constructive sense) immigration policy would necessarily privilege immigrants from high-iq, first-world nations, which would necessarily limit adherents of religions common in second- and third-world nations. If the ACLU wants to read the EC this broadly, the gov would have to privilege dumb people from poor countries rather than penalizing them for what they fail to bring to the table for the benefit of Americans.

      Permit a small number of immigrants each year and give priority to Ph.D.s in STEM fields and you’d have a virtual ban on immigrants from Muslim nations without ever mentioning Islam, animism, or any other undesirable religious group in your policy.

  3. Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 states: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

    I didn’t hear all the whiney bitching and crying when Obama, Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Reagan and Carter used it.

    We get it. Reason doesnt like Trump. Shut the fuck up about it already. What? Did shreek take over as editor in chief?

    1. I’m flooding the thread, but this one will likely die without much comment. I don’t object to the argument of Reason here on principle. I agree with them. But the ship long sailed and seeing the ACLU trot it out or progressive wailing over this makes me laugh. The Equal Protection clause applies to people within the state’s jurisdiction.

      Unless you want to argue that the whole Bill of Rights applies to foreigners, I don’t see the argument here. And progressives and conservatives who hate Trump most definitely won’t and aren’t going to do that. The federal government is already, by the logic used here, violating the Equal Protection Clause daily if we apply it to people outside the US. Frankly, they violate the rights of citizens.

      1. You are exactly right. It applies only to people under the jurisdiction of this government.

        Laws that apply to people outside of a government’s jurisdiction, is that a two way street?

    2. Ouch.

      Jacob might spend an hour or two browsing Wikipedia before publishing his next story.

  4. So “most countries” is the author’s words.

  5. But if the territory talk is simply a cover for excluding Muslims, as Trump seems to be suggesting, that would be equally unconstitutional.

    Restricting immigration on any basis is not unconstitutional. Jesus Christ, it’s depressing to see Reason engaging in the idiocy of proclaiming anything they think is bad to be unconstitutional and anything they think is good to be a constitutional right. As libertarians they should have a better understanding of the constitution.

    1. They know what they want – open borders regardless of who gets in. They keep convincing themselves Muslim violence isn’t a problem. Just a few bad apples – not a major feature of that faith, blah, blah, blah… Plus, Trump is yucky.

      So, we get these moronic justifications.

      1. We’ve had literally thousands of foreign Muslims imported into the area by Catholic Charities. We’ve also had zero acts of terrorism. There were a few instances of teenagers being teenage jerks, but otherwise there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in crime. There are, however, several new businesses, some of which serve some really good food.

        1. No one denies that most Muslim immigrants are not a problem. However, without an effective vetting system, it is near impossible to weed out those who are. Add in the fact that even Merkel acknowledges that the terrorists have and will continue to use the refugees to smuggle terrorists into western countries, and it seems a moratorium would be wise.

          1. Prohibition doesn’t work. Whether it’s prohibition of drugs or prohibition of immigration. It doesn’t work. The drugs will find their way in, as will the terrorists.

            An argument for drug prohibition is that keeping drugs illegal makes it difficult for users to find a fix, and it seems like the same argument is being made for immigration.

            While true to an extent, the fact is that if terrorists want to come here, they will. The only people who are penalized by immigration restrictions are those who follow the rules.

            1. Well, there is actually a demand for drugs, which creates the black market. There is no serious economic demand for more Muslims from countries that spawn terrorists. And the fact that some terrorists will get in anyway is not actually an argument for making it easier.

              1. The argument that some drugs will get in anyway isn’t actually an argument for making it easier.

                1. Well, that’s not the argument, is it? The argument is that we have the right to put whatever drugs we want to into our bodies so long as we cause no harm to others, and the government has no constitutional authority to ban them. Foreigners have no natural right to enter another country, and the government does in fact have the constitutional authority to restrict immigration.

                  And hey, burglaries are going to happen anyway, so why bother locking your doors? And car theft is going to happen anyway, so why not leave your keys in the ignition in your unlocked car?

              2. There is no serious economic demand for more Muslims from countries that spawn terrorists.

                “Oh, very well. *Diversity* demand.”

            2. Although there have been claims of “terrorists” crossing the southern border, I think all known acts of “radical” Islamic violence have been committed by people we allowed into the country legally.

      2. They’re also convincing themselves that the demographic changes of the past 30 years aren’t an issue. They are, and they’ve done massive damage in California, Reason‘s home. You’d think they’d start to wonder how the gun-hating, high-tax, control-every-aspect-of-your-life bureaucrats ever managed to come to power after Reagan took 57% of the vote in 1984.

        At the federal level, with the same demographics as the 80s and as late as 1992, Obama loses in 2012 and probably in 2008. The demographic shifts that are the direct result of two generations of immigration policy have given the Democrats a stranglehold on California that’s likely to be perpetual until and unless some massive social upheaval occurs and consequently a permanent advantage in the electoral college.

        If those demographic shifts continue, the country will continue dying via Californiazation and all the attendant corruption and abuses of that process. And if it’s going to be stopped, it has to be stopped now before Hillary continues to import ringers to ensure the socialist stranglehold on the executive, the only power that seems to matter anymore.

        1. I find it perplexing that supposedly freedom loving libertarians seem to welcome more people who love big government.

  6. The DNC amid multiple email scandals…welp guess it’s time to beat our Trumpler drum

    1. Well, last week the excuse was that the Republican convention was taking place. This week I guess the excuse is, TRUMP! Because TRUMP!

    2. DNC? What DNC? It’s a little early. When Clinton got off on the email thing, they ran article after article about her. Give it a bit.

      1. The DNC shit show started Friday afternoon when literally the entire internet had searched and posted the leaked emails, then blasted it out enough to be heard. Meanwhile most media outlets were trying their utmost to ignore it…Reason finally managed to shit out an article between bouts of kicking and Trumping at 11:10pm that night.

        I’m keeping score on you mammals, better ActRight

        1. Nope, the DNC starts today. Ends Thursday. It includes neither last Friday nor next.

  7. “especially given the violence at some of his rallies. ”

    Sullum lives in an alternate reality. Even the worst BLM or whatever protestors have not been very bad.

    Really weak, D+.

    1. The violence orchestrated by the DNC

      1. They merely illustrated the violence inherent in Trump’s supporters. Because TRUMP!

  8. Florida nightclub shooting…..-shooting/

    1. It’s not even a club. It’s a bar and grille.

      1. Oh well, that’s OK then. As long as it wasn’t a club.

  9. It’s Infowars, but I just learned that Alex Jones completely trolled and got the better of Cenk from the Young Turks. Made him have a meltdown in which the relatively hot female member of the Young Turks yelled for the “fat fuck” Jones to “get off the stage.”…..lex-jones/

    Pure gold.

    1. I saw the actual video from other sources. It was obvious to any disinterested party that the guy was trolling, but the self-righteous twats he was doing it to were so wound up and thin skinned that it worked. If they’d instead just luaghed it off, he’d have gotten bored and wandered off.

    2. Retards screaming at each other. Thank you for that.

    3. The spitting was a nice touch.

  10. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
    H. L. Mencken

    While the threat of terrorism isn’t completely imaginary, the chances of getting killed in a domestic terrorist attack are statistically equal to the chances of winning the lottery without a ticket.

    I’m not worried about it.

    1. Going to Munich in a few weeks, won’t lie, it’s in the back of my mind.

      1. I’m sure the victims and their families of Munich, Fort Hood, Orlando, Paris, Nice, etc. etc. are comforted by the fact that they were statistically more likely to have been struck by lightning.

    2. I’m not worried about it.

      Well yeah, as long as other people continue to be the victims, who gives a flying fuck?

      1. I don’t worry about things that are out of my control. It is a waste of time and energy.

        1. Okay, I agree with that, actually.

    3. While the threat of terrorism police shootings isn’t completely imaginary, the chances of getting killed in a domestic terrorist attack interaction with cops are statistically equal to the chances of winning the lottery without a ticket.

      Still agree?

  11. I don’t think Trump really cares and this is not what its all about.

    I’ve thought that Scott Adams’ (Dilbert) talk about Trump on his blog was all fortune teller trickery. Entertaining, but nonsensical.

    Not that I am finding Trump any less disgusting, but now I’m starting to wonder. A lot of people who are not me are going to hear this proposal and thing, “Well, yeah. That’s reasonable.”

    I’m voting for Johnson, but if he doesn’t win, I can’t decide which tyrant would be most entertaining to watch for 4+ years.

  12. . . . adds that the Constitution “doesn’t necessarily give us the right to commit suicide.”

    Funny that – he’s absolutely right yet completely incorrect at the same time.

    1. What is funnier is that many of the people shitting their pants over that comment have made that argument themselves in the past.

      1. Exactly. I figure the country and culture is lost, so let’s blow it up. At least I get the amusement of Gillespie and Sullum standing in puddles of warm piss. And no, Gary Johnson isn’t the answer to any serious question. Liberaltarians simply must lobotomize this insane open borders nonsense.

  13. Some vetting is better than others.

    The executive order also blocks entry of Venezuelan immigrants and non-immigrants who may be associated with the “erosion” of human rights unless the Secretary of State determines an exemption that is in the national interest of the U.S. Obama’s order further instructs a contribution ban on funds, good and services if the receiver is an individual associated with the Venezuelan government.

    1. “Who will vet the vetters?”

      1. Eddie?

      2. Eddie Vedder?/ ducks

  14. Even Michael Moore thinks Trump will win in November.

    1. Well, since Moore is wrong about virtually everything, I guess that means President Hillary.

  15. If Trump was only talking about excluding Muslims from immigrating, that wouldn’t bother me so much. It would be better if it was limited to just adherents of certain sects, but I’m not pissed off that a few moderate Sunnis cant immigrate to the US in the interest of preventing sleeper agents from getting in.

    But “The Wall” on the Mexican border is obviously not meant to keep out Muslims. It is meant to keep out Mexicans and Central Americans, who are largely Roman Catholic. Culturally, they aren’t that different from us. We should be thanking our lucky stars that most of our immigrants are coming from a Western Christian culture. Many of them would be considered “white” if we just changed the definition of “white” slightly. This makes it obvious that “The Wall” is all about preventing Mexican immigrants from competing with US citizens for jobs. It has nothing to do with the red herring of cultural swamping or national security. It is really no different than discrimination against italians or irish. I thought we were over Catholic vs. Protestant, but maybe some people are really, really old school in their prejudices.

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