Monday morning President Trump issued a revised vetting Executive Order which takes effect March 16 that rescinds and replaces his earlier order that has been in limbo in the courts. The new order states, “In light of the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] observation that the political branches are better suited to determine the appropriate scope of any suspensions than are the courts, and in order to avoid spending additional time pursuing litigation, I am revoking Executive Order 13769 and replacing it with this order, which expressly excludes from the suspensions categories of aliens that have prompted judicial concerns and which clarifies or refines the approach to certain other issues or categories of affected aliens.”
Not surprisingly, Democrats and critics this morning were quick to blast the new Executive Order as still being a “religious” based ban on Muslims from being allowed into the US.
Meanwhile, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) announced he’s “launching a bipartisan Congressional task force focused on closing security gaps that might be exploited by jihadists to sneak into our country, and I hope the administration will work closely with us to put in place new security checks to protect our people from the threat of terror.”
McCaul said, “I have long supported taking bold steps to keep terrorists from entering America. I look forward to reading the details of the President’s new executive order and conducting oversight to ensure it is implemented smoothly.”
Implementation of Trump’s initial Executive Order 13769 had been delayed by litigation. “Most significantly, enforcement of critical provisions of that order has been temporarily halted by court orders that apply nationwide and extend even to foreign nationals with no prior or substantial connection to the United States,” the new Executive Order said, noting. “On February 9, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to stay or narrow one such order pending the outcome of further judicial proceedings, while noting that the ‘political branches are far better equipped to make appropriate distinctions’ about who should be covered by a suspension of entry or of refugee admissions.’”
The court did not address the President’s authority to issue his initial vetting Executive Order. As Trump stated in the revised order he signed today, “In ordering the temporary suspension of entry described in subsection (b)(i) of this section, I exercised my authority under Article II of the Constitution and under section 212(f) of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act], which provides in relevant part: ‘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’ 8 U.S.C. 1182(f).’”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also stressed today that, “Congress provided the President of the United States, in section 212(f) of the INA, with the authority to suspend the entry of any class of aliens the President deems detrimental to the national interest. This authority has been exercised repeatedly for decades, and has been a component of immigration law since the enactment of the original INA in 1952.”
“Under these authorities,” Trump said in the new order, “I determined that, for a brief period of 90 days, while existing screening and vetting procedures were under review, the entry into the United States of certain aliens from the seven identified countries — each afflicted by terrorism in a manner that compromised the ability of the United States to rely on normal decision-making procedures about travel to the United States — would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. Nonetheless, I permitted the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant case-by-case waivers when they determined that it was in the national interest to do so.”
“As the President noted in his address to Congress, the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from abroad. We also know that people seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program. In fact, today more than 300 people who came here as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions disclosed today in jointly announcing the President’s new Executive Order along with DHS Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
According to DHS, these 300 individuals under investigation represent one-third of all individuals currently under investigation and surveillance.
Inside the new Executive Order
In his new order, the President stated, “pursuant to sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a),” this order prevents “unrestricted entry into the United States of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen [who] would be detrimental to the interests of the United States … I therefore direct that the entry into the United States of nationals of those six countries be suspended for 90 days from the effective date of this order,” subject to the specific limitations, waivers and exceptions.
Iraq was removed from the new order.
DHS explained the order this morning shortly after Trump signed it:
“For the next 90 days, foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who are outside the United States on the effective date of the order, do not currently have a valid visa on the effective date of this order, and did not have a valid visa at 5:00 eastern standard time on January 27, 2017, are not eligible to travel to the United States. The 90-day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.
“On the basis of negotiations that have taken place between the Government of Iraq and the US Department of State in the last month, Iraq will increase cooperation with the US Government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States. As a result of this increased information sharing, Iraqi citizens are not affected by the Executive Order. Of course, all normal immigration processing requirements continue to apply, including the grounds of inadmissibility that may be applicable.
“In the first 20 days, DHS will perform a global, country-by-country review of the identity and security information that each country provides to the US Government to support US visa and other immigration benefit determinations. Countries will then have 50 days to comply with requests from the US Government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.
“The Executive Order does not apply to certain individuals, such as lawful permanent residents of the United States; foreign nationals admitted to the United States after the effective date of the order; individuals with a document that is valid on the effective date of the order or any date thereafter which permits travel to the United States; dual nationals when travelling on a passport issued by a non-designated country; foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic, NATO, C-2 for travel to the United Nations, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas; and individuals already granted asylum or refugee status in the United States before the effective date of the order.
“DHS and the Department of State have the discretionary authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas or allow the entry of nationals of these six countries into the United States when a national from one of the countries demonstrates that the denial of entry would cause undue hardship, that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security, and that his or her entry would be in the national interest.
“Similarly, the Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to the United States. Upon resumption of the Refugee Admissions Program, refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for Fiscal Year 2017. The Executive Order does not apply to those refugees who have already been formally scheduled for transit by the State Department. During this 120-day period, similar to the waiver authority for visas, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the entry of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest and would not pose a threat to the security or welfare of the United States.
“The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice, will develop uniform screening standards for all immigration programs government-wide as appropriate and in the national interest.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security will expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit system for all in-scope travelers entering and departing the United States.
“As part of a broader set of government actions, the Secretary of State will review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal.
“TheDepartment of State will restrict the Visa Interview Waiver Program and require additional nonimmigrant visa applicants to undergo an in-person interview.”
The new Executive Order requires the DHS Secretary, “in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, [to] conduct a worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for a visa, admission or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat. The Secretary of Homeland Security may conclude that certain information is needed from particular countries even if it is not needed from every country.”
Additionally, “The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the worldwide review … including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed from each country for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 20 days of the effective date of this order. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence.”
“Upon submission of the report … regarding the information needed from each country for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request that all foreign governments that do not supply such information regarding their nationals begin providing it within 50 days of notification,” the order requires.
After this period expires, the order requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney Generalto “submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion in a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of appropriate categories of foreign nationals of countries that have not provided the information requested until they do so or until the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies that the country has an adequate plan to do so, or has adequately shared information through other means. The Secretary of State, the Attorney General, or the Secretary of Homeland Security may also submit to the President the names of additional countries for which any of them recommends other lawful restrictions or limitations deemed necessary for the security or welfare of the United States.”
The Secretary of State and DHS Secretary also must “submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 60 days of the effective date of this order, a second report within 90 days of the effective date of this order, a third report within 120 days of the effective date of this order and a fourth report within 150 days of the effective date of this order.”
The threats identified
Contrary to critics’ assertions Trump’s new Executive Order is still a ban on Muslims and their religion – although dozens of Muslim nations are not affected by the order – the new order states, “Nationals from the countries previously identified under section 217(a)(12) of the INA warrant additional scrutiny in connection with our immigration policies because the conditions in these countries present heightened threats. Each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations or contains active conflict zones. Any of these circumstances diminishes the foreign government’s willingness or ability to share or validate important information about individuals seeking to travel to the United States. Moreover, the significant presence in each of these countries of terrorist organizations, their members and others exposed to those organizations increases the chance that conditions will be exploited to enable terrorist operatives or sympathizers to travel to the United States. Finally, once foreign nationals from these countries are admitted to the United States, it is often difficult to remove them, because many of these countries typically delay issuing, or refuse to issue, travel documents.”
From 9/11/2001 through 12/31/2014, this spreadsheet identifies Individuals convicted of terrorism crimes from the nations in Trump’s Executive Order as determined by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Center for Immigration Studies.
The new order provided brief descriptions, “taken in part from the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 (June 2016), of some of the conditions in six of the previously designated countries that demonstrate why their nationals continue to present heightened risks to the security of the United States.”
- “Iran. Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984 and continues to support various terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas and terrorist groups in Iraq. Iran has also been linked to support for Al Qaeda and has permitted Al Qaeda to transport funds and fighters through Iran to Syria and South Asia. Iran does not cooperate with the United States in counterterrorism efforts.”
- “Libya. Libya is an active combat zone, with hostilities between the internationally recognized government and its rivals. In many parts of the country, security and law enforcement functions are provided by armed militias rather than state institutions. Violent extremist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have exploited these conditions to expand their presence in the country. The Libyan government provides some cooperation with the United States’ counterterrorism efforts, but it is unable to secure thousands of miles of its land and maritime borders, enabling the illicit flow of weapons, migrants, and foreign terrorist fighters. The United States Embassy in Libya suspended its operations in 2014.”
- “Somalia. Portions of Somalia have been terrorist safe havens. Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, has operated in the country for years and continues to plan and mount operations within Somalia and in neighboring countries. Somalia has porous borders, and most countries do not recognize Somali identity documents. The Somali government cooperates with the United States in some counterterrorism operations but does not have the capacity to sustain military pressure on or to investigate suspected terrorists.”
- “Sudan. Sudan has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 because of its support for international terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas. Historically, Sudan provided safe havens for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to meet and train. Although Sudan’s support to Al Qaeda has ceased and it provides some cooperation with the United States’ counterterrorism efforts, elements of core Al Qaeda and ISIS-linked terrorist groups remain active in the country.”
- “Syria. Syria has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. The Syrian government is engaged in an ongoing military conflict against ISIS and others for control of portions of the country. At the same time, Syria continues to support other terrorist groups. It has allowed or encouraged extremists to pass through its territory to enter Iraq. ISIS continues to attract foreign fighters to Syria and to use its base in Syria to plot or encourage attacks around the globe, including in the United States. The United States Embassy in Syria suspended its operations in 2012. Syria does not cooperate with the United States’ counterterrorism efforts.”
- “Yemen. Yemen is the site of an ongoing conflict between the incumbent government and the Houthi-led opposition. Both ISIS and a second group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have exploited this conflict to expand their presence in Yemen and to carry out hundreds of attacks. Weapons and other materials smuggled across Yemen’s porous borders are used to finance AQAP and other terrorist activities. In 2015, the United States Embassy in Yemen suspended its operations, and embassy staff were relocated out of the country. Yemen has been supportive of, but has not been able to cooperate fully with, the United States in counterterrorism efforts.”
“In light of the conditions in these six countries,” Trump said in his new Executive Order, “until the assessment of current screening and vetting procedures required by section 2 of this order is completed, the risk of erroneously permitting entry of a national of one of these countries who intends to commit terrorist acts or otherwise harm the national security of the United States is unacceptably high. Accordingly, while that assessment is ongoing, I am imposing a temporary pause on the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, subject to categorical exceptions and case-by-case waivers, as described in section 3 of this order.”
In 2013, it was revealed dozens of suspected terrorist bomb makers may have mistakenly been allowed into the US as refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remains of Improvised Explosive bombs recovered in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Around the same time, counterterrorism officials working on the Southwest border told Homeland Security Today on background that Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents and FBI had ascertained that “numerous” asylum seekers, especially from Somalia, had ties to Al Qaeda or were already known or suspected terrorists.
More recently, top intelligence officials have gone on the record saying ISIS has undoubtedly used the US refugee and asylum process to infiltrate jihadists into the country.
Seth Jones, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation who served on the 9/11 Commission, has said on at least 10 occasions since 2009, refugees were arrested on terrorism-related charges in the US.
According a recent Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security report on ISIS prosecutions in the US, 18 percent were a refugee/asylee; their residency status is unknown; they overstayed their visa; or had no US residency.
Last August, while chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, Sessions said the threat of infiltration by terrorists is real, saying at least 40 people allowed into to the US as refugees since September 11, 2001 have been implicated in terrorism.
“Some were admitted as adults, others as children, but these cases refute the false assertion that those admitted to the United States as refugees never engage in terrorism. But because these facts do not fit within his worldview, President Obama rejects them. And in so doing, he rejects his sacred oath for what he perceives as political gain,” Sessions said at the time.
Last September, during a hearing on the refugee resettlement program by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez was called out regarding his statement to the subcommittee that, “The fact is that since Sept. 11, not a single act of actual terrorist violence has been committed by a refugee who has undergone our screening procedures.”
When Rodriguez was asked if it was "correct" that individuals let into the US under the refugee program as adults had been "convicted of terrorist offenses," Rodriguez said that is "correct."
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) asked Rodriguez about the Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security report on ISIS prosecutions in the US which “looked at all ISIS prosecutions in the US and determined that of those involved … 18 percent were refugees or asylees. Shouldn’t that be of enormous concern to all of us?”
“Without a doubt. Yes,” Rodriguez said.
“My question is: Isn’t that a very big percentage? 18 percent.” Vitter asked.
“One percent would be a big percentage. This is an area of significant concern,” Rodriguez conceded.
Continuing, Vitter said, “Now, a few minutes ago, you touted and made a big deal in your testimony, or perhaps in response to a question, that since 9/11 there has been no person who came in as an adult in the refugee program who was convicted of a violent terrorist offense. Now, that’s great, but that was a very carefully crafted statement. There are many people who came in as adults in the refugee program who’ve been convicted of terrorist offenses, correct?”
“That is correct,” Rodriguez admitted.
“So, just to clarify your earlier statement,” Vitter continued, “again, you touted nobody came in through the refugee program as an adult who committed a violent act, but there sure were those who came in, who were convicted of terrorist offenses.”
“I was transparent about that. That’s correct,” Rodriguez said.
Administration officials, Repub lawmakers on the new order
“One of the Justice Department’s top priorities is to protect the United States from threats to our national security. Therefore, I want to discuss two points: first, the national security basis for this order, and second, our department’s role in defending thelawful orders of the President,” Sessions said.
“First: As the President noted in his address to Congress, the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from abroad. We also know that people seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program. In fact, today more than 300 people who came here as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities.”
“Like every nation,” Sessions said, “the United States has the right to control who enters our country, and to keep out those who would do we harm. This executive order protects the American people – as well as lawful permanent residents – by putting in place an enhanced screening and vetting process for visitors from six nations.”
“Three of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism,” Sessions pointed out, adding, “The other three have served as safe havens for terrorists – countries where the government has lost control of territory to terrorist groups like ISIL or Al Qaeda and its affiliates. This increases the risk that people admitted here from these countries may belong to terrorist groups, or may have been radicalized by them.”
“We cannot compromise our nation’s security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly – or when those governments actively support terrorism,” Session said, noting, “This executive order provides a needed pause, so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern.”
“Second,” Sessions said this morning during the announcement of Trump’s new Executive Order, “The Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just as the first, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority. This Department of Justice will defend and enforce lawful orders of the President consistent with core principles of our Constitution. The executive is empowered under the Constitution and by Congress to make national security judgments and to enforce our immigration policies in order to safeguard the American public.”
Lastly, Sessions said, “Terrorism is clearly a danger for America and our people. The President gets briefings on these dangers and emerging threats on a regular basis. The federal investigative agencies, the Intelligence Community, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security and the US military report to the President. Knowing the President would possess such extensive information, our founders wisely gave the executive branch the authority and duty to protect the nation. This executive order is a proper exercise of that power.”
DHS Secretary Kelly said during the joint announcement this morning that, “The Executive Order signed today by President Trump will make America safer, and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system. We must undertake a rigorous review of our visa and refugee vetting programs to increase our confidence in the entry decisions we make for visitors and immigrants to the United States. We cannot risk the prospect of malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives.”
“The Executive Order signed today is prospective in nature—applying only to foreign nationals outside of the United States who do not have a valid visa. It is important to note that nothing in this executive order affects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country,” he said, emphasizing, “If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you. But unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.”
Kelly said, “The Department of Homeland Security has worked closely with the Department of Justice, the Department of State and the White House to create an executive order thataddresses our information concerns while protecting the homeland and our citizens … We will continue to work closely with our operating components and across government to implement and enforce [the Executive Order] humanely, respectfully and with professionalism.”
"The executive order signed by the President earlier today, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, is a vital measure for strengthening our national security. It is the President’s solemn duty to protect the American people. And with this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe," Tillerson said during the joint announcement this morning with Sessions and Kelly.
"As threats to our security continue to evolve and change," Tillerson said, "common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and re-assess the systems we rely upon to protect our country. While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country."
"To our allies and partners around the world," Tillerson stressed, "Please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends. The State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies and implement these temporary restrictions in an orderly manner. Our embassies and consulates around the world will play an important role in making sure that our nation is as secure as it can be."
"The State Department will implement the provisions in this order that allow for the admissions of refugees when it is determined they do not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States," Tillerson said.
Continuing, Tillerson said, "Upon the President’s initial executive order issued on January the 27th, the State Department’s Consular Affairs and Diplomatic Security offices immediately undertook a review, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, to identify additional measures that would strengthen our vetting of those seeking entry to the United States from seven named countries. These early efforts were concentrated on Iraq. Iraq is an important ally in the fight to defeat ISIS, with their brave soldiers fighting in close coordination with America’s men and women in uniform."
"This intense review over the past month identified multiple security measures that the State Department and the Government of Iraq will be implementing to achieve our shared objective of preventing those with criminal or terroristic intent from reaching the United States," Tillerson explained, adding, "I want to express my appreciation to Prime Minister Al Abadi of Iraq for his positive engagement and support for implementing these actions. The United States welcomes this kind of close cooperation with countries in every region of the world who share our commitment to national security."
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), member of both the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committee, said, “I appreciate President Trump’s continued commitment to protect innocent Americans from those who enter the United States. I support this order that places short-term limits on the admission of new refugees and temporary immigrants from six nations deemed a security threat. This policy ensures that the government has the procedures and information in place to properly vet certain foreign nationals who seek to come to our country.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan (who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency and Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, and is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and a member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats) added, “I support President Trump’s updated Executive Order on national security, just as I supported the previous version. US law specifically grants the President this authority. I am grateful that President Trump takes his responsibility seriously. I am pleased that he is once again putting the interests of the American people first – especially when it comes to safety. Many in the media and on the left seem to have forgotten we are at war with a determined enemy – radical Islamist terrorism. Until that foe is vanquished, we do well to temporarily halt bringing people into the country who can’t be proven not to want to do our people harm, until better vetting procedures can be put into place.”
House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said, “I applaud President Trump for remaining committed to protecting our nation from foreign terrorists. The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe. We know that terrorists seek to exploit our immigration system in order to harm Americans. We should maintain a generous immigration system, but it’s sensible to hit pause on admitting foreign nationals and refugees from countries where adequate screening cannot occur. The Ninth Circuit was wrong on the first executive order, but I am pleased that President Trump is moving forward with a revised plan to keep Americans safe.”
Democrats, special interest groups blast new order
Democrats and special interest opponents of the Executive Order don’t see things the same way. They see “Executive Order 2.0” as simply a rewritten ban on Muslims and a war on their religion.
Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, said, “Make no mistake, this is the Muslim ban that President Trump and his aides have been promising. The administration is just rearranging the chairs at the same table. The administration is committed to writing anti-Muslim bigotry into law and this new executive order is just one way to do it. President Trump and his advisors’ zeal to demonizing an entire faith is shameful."
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said, "This new Muslim travel ban is just like the old: it discriminates against individuals from Muslim-majority countries and closes the door on vulnerable refugees fleeing violence and persecution around the world. Simply put, it flies in the face of our nation’s values and history. While this Executive Order was billed by the President as absolutely necessary for the security of our country, all evidence points to the contrary. Reports from the Department of Homeland Security show that the administration tried and failed to justify the ban after the fact.”
Thompson said, “President Trump put forward a disastrous policy in January so he could follow through on a campaign promise. After losing badly in the courts, the administration seemed to be in no hurry to revise or replace it. Reports state that the administration delayed announcing a new Executive Order last week because it didn’t want to affect the news cycle from Trump’s address to Congress and wanted the new Executive Order to have its own spotlight. We know this administration is more concerned with politics and fearmongering than promoting good governance and sound national security policy. This Executive Order does not make us safer and the American people will not be fooled.”
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DEL), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said, “The revised executive order signed by President Trump today may provide ten days for this ban and its implications to be reviewed by people hoping to travel to the United States, but it still suffers from the same fundamental flaws as the first one. Categorically denying entry to a group of people on the basis of their country of origin is uninformed policy that does not make our country safer. Moreover, no citizens from the countries targeted by this wrongheaded effort have committed deadly attacks against Americans on US soil since at least 1975. We can fortify our refugee and immigrant vetting process, and keep Americans safe, without breaking with nation’s principles and denying entry to people on the basis of their religion and nationality. This revised executive order still fails us on that front.”
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) stated, “Despite some changes around the edges, President Trump’s revised Muslim ban is essentially the same misguided and unconstitutional document it was before. It is still unlawful, unwarranted and unnecessary. The United States already has extensive vetting for travelers coming to the US.”
She added, “This ban on Muslims is simply bigotry wrapped in fear. America has a rich history of religious pluralism, and of welcoming refugees and other immigrants from all around the world. This ban goes against America’s values of tolerance, diversity and compassion. I strongly urge court action to halt this disgraceful attempt to ban individuals, including refugees fleeing from persecution, from entering the United States based on their religion.”
The Brennan Center for Justice also responded, saying, “The new order is a revised version of the ban issued on January 27th, which was blocked by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. While narrower in some respects than the previous version, the new order still singles out Muslim travelers without providing any evidence of a national security threat.”
“The new order removes Iraq from the list of countries from which was travel was banned in the original order, exempts those with green cards and current visa holders and omits language from the previous order that would have established a preference within the refugee program for ‘minority’ religions. But the crux of the order remains in place: travelers from a group of Muslim-majority countries will be barred from the US, despite any evidence that immigrants and visitors from these countries pose a heightened risk of terrorism.”
“The new order is still a Muslim ban and it is still unconstitutional,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “The government is not allowed to favor one faith over another. Even though the new order does not obviously discriminate against Islam, courts will look at the purpose behind its provisions and President Trump has publicly and repeatedly proclaimed that he wants to ban Muslims from the United States.”
“This is a transparent effort to put lipstick on a pig,” added Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “The American people and the courts are not likely to be fooled. There was no national security justification for a travel ban on January 27, and nothing has happened in the weeks since then to create one. Banning people from this country on the basis of their religion is against everything this country stands for. Bigotry does not make us safer.”
David H. Schanzer, an associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University, said, “The Trump administration made a good decision to revoke the immigration order from January, which was haphazard, unprofessional and overtly discriminated based on religion."
However, he said, “Even though this order is calmer, more professionally executed, and less likely to cause mass chaos than its predecessor, its issuance marks a sad day for American leadership in the modern world.”
“The order, together with the Trump administration’s other actions, symbolizes that America fears engagement with the outside world and believes national security is advanced by building barriers that isolate America. This withdrawal of American leadership will make the world a more dangerous place and damage our economic prosperity," Schanzer said.
“And by shuttering the US refugee program," he concluded, "the order shamefully declares that we will not partner with other nations in providing safe harbor for desperate people, mostly women and children, who have lost everything due to the ravages of war. Refusing to participate in this humanitarian obligation is an abandonment of America’s true heritage — one that our country will ultimately regret.”
Cristóbal J. Alex, president of the Latino Victory Fund, said, “We are sickened by Republicans’ continued efforts to masquerade their discrimination in the name of ‘national security.’ We must not let any immigrants or refugees be used as political pawns. Trump himself called ‘for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on’ when he was running for office. That is what he is doing. A weakened ban is still a ban. We’ve had enough, and we will do everything in our power to mobilize our community leaders against this affront to democracy. This executive order is ineffective and does not reflect the values of America."
The Refugee Council USA similarly stated, “While the language in the new Executive Order might look slightly different than the first, like the original, it still singles out the most vetted and most vulnerable people and will do nothing to make this country safer.”
"Trump’s ‘Revised’ refugee and Muslim ban is still a refugee and Muslim ban," said America’s Voice Education Fund, which held a hurried meeting of policy and legal experts "to analyze the ban, the costly ramifications and next steps."
A recording of the event can be accessed here.
Attendees included Abed A. Ayoub, Esq., Legal and Policy Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Farhana Khera, president and executive director, Muslim Advocates; Karen Tumlin, legal director, National Immigration Law Center; Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President for US Programs, International Rescue Committee and chair of the Refugee Council USA; and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Esq., Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law, Penn State Law and director, Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.
For more information on the new Executive Order, see DHS’s “Q&A: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To The United States.”
For information on "extreme vetting," see the Homeland Security Today exclusive report, Reasonable ‘Extreme’ Vetting of Refugees Makes Perfect Sense, by Dr. Godfrey Garner and M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D.
Also see Homeland Security Today’s in-depth report on the President’s initial Executive Order, Inside Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting,’ Temporary Halt on Immigrants from Jihadi Hotbeds; ‘Not a Muslim Ban,’ Officials Stress.