WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 6, 2017) — President Donald Trump on Monday signed a new executive order to update and reinstate his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries after his first order was stopped by a federal court. His previous travel ban, issued on January 27, 2017, halted all refugee resettlement for 120 days, banned Syrian refugees indefinitely, and gave priority to Christians as a minority religion.
The repackaged executive order is the same, but creates exceptions for visa holders and legal permanent residents (LPRs), removes Iraq from the list of targeted countries, subjects Syrian refugees to the same review period as other countries, and ends the preferential treatment of Christians.
The following are responses to the executive order from elected official and Asian and Pacific Islander organizations:
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
“This order has nothing to do with national security, and everything to do with encouraging fear of Muslims. Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security has concluded that nationality has little to do with one’s potential to engage in terrorist acts. From the first day that then-candidate Trump stood up to announce his idea of a Muslim ban, he has been painfully clear about his intentions. And if there were any doubt, his stated desire to give Christians preferential treatment under his first executive order – something that is blatantly unconstitutional – showed that he was in search of a legally palatable way to implement a Muslim ban as President.
“The tweaks made today do not make this order any less unconstitutional or immoral than the last. No individual from any of the countries named in this order has committed an act of terror in the United States. And worse, he’s particularly targeting refugees – some of the most vulnerable and least dangerous people in the world. If President Trump truly wants to make America safer, he will drop this fanatical and ideological war against Islam, stop his plans to gut the budget of the State Department, and listen to the advice of national security and law enforcement officials who have warned against isolating the Muslim community in this way. As it stands, this updated order is still a policy of cruelty and bigotry and I will continue to resist it as an elected Representative and as an American citizen.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
On CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to discuss how the Administration continues to target the Muslim community. From the segment:
“[The President] made some small changes…but it’s still basically a Muslim ban. It’s still a ban based on one’s religion, and every time our country has targeted a minority group for discriminatory treatment, we have been proven to be very, very wrong, and the President is wrong in this instance.”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
“True to our history and values as a nation, we have served as a place of refuge to the most vulnerable in the world. We should not be putting in place a blanket ban of refugees, especially when we have actively been fueling the counterproductive regime change wars that have caused them to flee their homes. These people would much rather stay in their homes and live in peace. That’s why we must address the cause of this refugee crisis and end the destructive U.S. policy of counterproductive regime-change wars, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.”
Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson, president of Auburn Seminary in New York
“Today President Trump, under the guise of national safety, has once again discriminated against Muslims and inflamed the false narrative that this country is at war with a religion. The president’s relentless focus on Muslim-majority countries continues to be a violation of the religious liberty our country is built upon and a rejection of the commitment of its founders to welcome people of all faiths to America.
“To halt refugees, many of whom are fleeing persecution and war in their home countries, is unconscionable and does not reflect the values that underpin the foundation of our country. No nation should target the most vulnerable of populations, especially those seeking safety and shelter. By welcome people of all faith traditions (and no traditions), we make our country more vibrant, compassionate, and loving.
“Across the country, we have seen a dramatic spike in Islamophobia, including a rise in hate speech, vandalism, and fires at mosques across the nation. The president’s first executive order emboldened those who seek to harm and harass our Muslim brothers and sisters. Continuing to target Muslim-majority countries does not increase the safety of the United States and sends a signal to extremists that it is safe to target immigrants, refugees, and people of color in their communities.
“The president’s new order continues to stigmatize Muslim communities in the the United States and abroad. Auburn stands in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers around the globe and will continue to mobilize faith leaders working to protect the humanity of immigrants and refugees.”
Margaret Fung, executive director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
“This latest version of a Muslim ban fails to address national security concerns and continues to violate constitutional protections for immigrant communities. The new executive order will still halt admissions to the U.S., effective March 16, 2017, of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for at least 90 days (Iraq is no longer included in the travel ban.) It replaces the Jan. 27 travel ban that suspended the immigrant and nonimmigrant entries of individuals of seven Muslim-majority countries. The order seeks to work around a successful legal challenge blocking implementation of the original order by exempting lawful permanent residents and dual nationals traveling on the passports of non-designated countries, as well as other individuals in very limited circumstances. As in the original directive, the travel ban suspends the U.S. refugee admissions program for 120 days and limits the number of refugees to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, although it no longer singles out Syrian refugees for an indefinite period.
AALDEF’s team of attorneys is closely monitoring the Department of Homeland Security’s implementation of the president’s newly issued executive order and its impact on immigrants and refugees and their families. In late January, there were widespread reports of chaos at airports around the country following the rollout of the original directive.
Annie Wang, a staff attorney in AALDEF’s Immigrant Access to Justice program, said: “While the administration tweaked the language of the initial order to give it a veneer of legal justification, we believe that the Muslim/Travel Ban 2.0 will not make our country safer and are confident that its discriminatory intent and impact will be challenged again in the courts.” As the impacts of the new executive order unfold, AALDEF will offer free legal consultations to community residents and their families who may be affected by the order and will conduct legal workshops and trainings.
Vicki Shu, vice president of public affairs, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
“This may be a new executive order, but nothing has changed in the bad intentions of this anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim order. At its core, this order is a violation of the equal application of civil and human rights, and misinterprets our valid fears of terrorism with an irrational fear of refugees and persons from Muslim-majority countries. This new order will increase fear of other races, religions, and nationalities based on a flawed national security rationale, paralleling the logic used to exclude the Chinese in the late nineteenth century or incarcerate the Japanese during World War II. As with the previous order, we as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders refuse to accept a reality in which national origin or religion dictates the ability to migrate or exist in this country as a refugee or an immigrant. We will continue to protest against this discriminatory order and support legal efforts to stop this travel ban.”
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.
Quyen Dinh, executive director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
“Today’s executive order is still a thinly disguised Muslim and refugee ban and an attack on our nation’s core values. We will not stand for policies that demonize and scapegoat vulnerable refugees who have already faced intense scrutiny in their journey to safety, or policies that discriminate solely on the basis of nationality and religion. As Southeast Asian Americans, a community of former refugees who have survived the horrors of war and genocide, we demand that our country keep its doors open to families like our own who seek only peace and opportunity for their children.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
“The new ban makes minor changes in an attempt to get around the existing court rulings. It continues the administration’s effort to implement xenophobic policies, shut down Muslim immigration, and racially profile Muslim refugees as threats,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Advancing Justice | AAJC.
In addition to eliminating Iraq from the ban, the new ban states that it does not apply to green card holders; eliminates the preference for religious minorities seeking refugee status, which was widely understood to favor Christian refugees based on the President’s own statements; and eliminates the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. It also provides for phased implementation, so as not to affect people who are already granted visas when the ban goes into effect on March 16th, but also allows time for inevitable legal challenges.
“The prior Muslim ban was an unmitigated disaster both in terms of moving our country away from our core Constitutional values of equality and inclusion based on hollow national security claims, as well depriving people of basic due process rights. This new ban is mostly a reiteration of the earlier attempt and is unconstitutional for the same reasons,” said Laboni Hoq, litigation director at Advancing Justice-LA.
Over 40 lawsuits were filed after the first ban was instituted on January 27, 2017, which took effect immediately. Advancing Justice attorneys volunteered in multiple airports throughout the country. Advancing Justice negotiated the release of an elderly Iranian couple at San Francisco International airport, and was also an organizational plaintiff in one of the lawsuits.
“When the first Muslim ban came down, we were on the ground in airports across the country and we are ready again to fight this administration’s continued attempts to roll back Constitutional protections for immigrant communities,” said Elica Vafaie of Advancing Justice | Asian Law Caucus. “We are not going to sit idly by as this administration attempts to unilaterally roll back Constitutional protections for immigrant communities, who are valued members of our diverse society.”
“Through the leadership of a number of civil rights organizations, together with pro bono legal and nonlegal volunteers, we experienced one of the most spontaneous and organic calls to action that we have seen in modern times,” said Andy Kang of Advancing Justice | Chicago.
In an effort to combat “Muslim Ban 2.0”, Asian Americans Advancing Justice will also mount an education campaign to ensure travelers know their rights and how to use them. This effort includes our Know Your Rights resources page, which compiles up-to-date and trusted resources from partners and other civil rights organizations. Travelers who are concerned they may be targeted by the new ban should contact one of the following free legal hotlines prior to embarking on their flights to the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5)
“Let’s not kid ourselves: the new Muslim Ban is still a Muslim Ban. Yes, it’s lawyered up a bit, but that’s all. While the Administration made some token changes to its original Muslim Ban in order to try and appease the courts, the intent is the same. Trump called for this ban in the Presidential primary, stuck with it during the General Election, stated he would pursue it before his Inauguration, and implemented it a week after taking office. Only when it was defeated in the courts did he tweak this order.
“Just like the previous Executive Order, this new order seeks to ban people from entering our country because of their religion. Plain and simple. The U.S. Constitution says religious tests and bans are wrong. The new Muslim Ban may not ban all Muslims, but the people who are banned are banned for being Muslim.
“Any such ban violates our constitution and is at odds with our founding principles.”