Several key U.S. congressional Republicans congratulated the Trump administration Monday for its revisions to contentious travel restrictions on migrants from six predominantly Muslim nations, while a leading Democrat and several human rights organizations ripped the new order as “racist and anti-Islamic.”
The widely predicted split had House Speaker Paul Ryan praising the new order, saying it advances “our shared goal” of protecting the United States.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he believes the new directive, unlike the earlier order, will not be seen as a religious ban and will pass legal scrutiny. The previous executive order was suspended following legal challenges and the revised version was aimed at overcoming those objections.
Graham said he believed the new order to be “a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states.”
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders voiced sharp disagreement with his Republican colleagues, describing the new ban as singling out Muslims in “an attempt to divide us up.”
“This isn’t about keeping America safe,” Sanders said. “A president who respected our traditions of religious freedom would not have resorted to hateful, anti-Islamic rhetoric to justify [the] ban.”
The International Rescue Committee, which provides humanitarian aid to 40 countries and resettles vetted refugees in 28 U.S. cities, described the new order as a threat to 60,000 already-vetted refugees left stranded in crisis zones.
“This ban doesn’t target those who are the greatest security risk, but those least able to advocate for themselves,” the IRC said in a statement. “Instead of making us safer, it serves as a gift for extremists who seek to undermine America.”
The IRC also touted the U.S. resettlement program, saying it is regarded as “the world’s most successful and secure.” It said there has not been a deadly terrorist attack by a refugee since the U.S. resettlement program was launched in 1980.
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Amnesty International described Trump’s replacement order as “the same hate and fear with new packaging.” An Amnesty statement also warned that the order will generate “extreme fear … for thousands of families by, once again, putting anti-Muslim hatred into policy.”
Elsewhere, Iraqi officials welcomed the new order, which removes Iraq from the original list of countries whose nationals were temporarily banned from travel to the United States.
Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal, in comments to the Associated Press, said the revised U.S. order removing Baghdad from the ban list will “enhance” U.S.-Iraqi cooperation in the fight against Islamic State extremists.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iraq was removed from the list after a State Department review on improving vetting of Iraqi citizens in collaboration with the Iraqi government.
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