By Rebecca Ma, Associate Campaigner at Amnesty International USA
Yesterday, President Trump signed a new executive order banning many people from six Muslim-majority countries and suspending the refugee admissions program. It’s set to take effect on March 16. The revised order is designed to overcome court scrutiny and assuage congressional critics, particularly from his own party.
Those criticisms included the impact on refugees, Iraqi allies, and anti-Muslim hate. Several members of Congress denounced the first order as being too broad and sending the wrong signal to the world: Of American hostility to Muslims. With Muslim Ban 2.0, those criticisms should still stand.
In the 24 hours since the new order was signed, while many members of Congress have strongly opposed it, others appear to have bought into the Trump narrative that this new ban is reasonable and inoffensive. Some are actively supporting the new order. Many others have stayed silent.
Here’s where these senators are:
· Senator Marco Rubio (R–Fla.), whose statement came just short of approval, was the only Republican senator to continue to challenge the new order: “This order appears to have addressed many of the earlier concerns raised by the January 27 order, and should be less disruptive to those who have followed our laws and pose no threat to our country. I do have concerns about the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which has the potential to disrupt tourism and business travel to Florida. And I have urged the Administration to make sure the refugee waivers provided for in the order are implemented in a way that ensures political dissidents are not turned away.”
· Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham strongly opposed the first order, but were quick to applaud the new one. Within hours, Senator McCain (R–Ariz.) tweeted, “#Iraq not included in today’s executive order — Iraqis are our allies in the fight against #ISIL.”
· Senator Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) wanted to “congratulate the Administration for modifying the original order to ensure that it is prospective in application, protective of those with valid visas and legal status, and exempts Iraqis, as five thousand Americans are currently fighting alongside them against ISIL.” He said: “I believe the new order will withstand the legal challenges as it’s drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states.” He went on to tweet, “Today’s Executive Order will help achieve President Trump’s goal of making us safer.”
· Senator Ben Sasse (R–Nebr.) gave his nod of approval, stating, “The administration did the right thing to minimize confusion around the world, honor current visas, and coordinate agencies here at home.”
· Senator Pat Toomey (R–Pa.) concluded, “While I am still reviewing the details of today’s executive order and will closely monitor its implementation, it appears to lay out a more detailed, coordinated, and clearer set of rules that will hopefully yield less confusion about who can and cannot enter the country.”
· Senator Susan Collins (R–Maine) also voiced satisfaction. She said the new travel order addressed her concerns with the original ban: “For example, the new order now exempts green card and visa holders, permits Iraqi translators and others who assisted our military to enter our country on special immigration visas, and eliminates the ill-conceived religious test that was included in the previous executive order.”
· Senators Cory Gardner and Rob Portman disapproved the first order, and tamped down their disapproval of the second. Senator Gardner (R–Colo.) said: “I had significant problems with the Administration’s overly broad executive order announced in January and my staff and I worked tirelessly to help Coloradans who were affected by its unintended consequences. While I am still reviewing the details of the revised executive action, it appears that it establishes a stringent vetting system for individuals from a limited number of countries. I remain in favor of improving our immigration system, and I look forward to learning more about the President’s action to strengthen our country’s vetting process.”
· Senator Rob Portman (R–Ohio) believes the new order to be “a more carefully designed process” and “hope[s] the administration’s assessment of our screening procedures is done thoroughly and swiftly, so that we can resume our immigration processes to permit the appropriate travel of people to and from our country, while keeping us all safe.”
Senator Ron Johnson (R–Wis.) who chairs the pivotal Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, issued this ambiguous statement: “National security and the security of the American people is the top priority of the federal government. I support the goal of this executive order and will continue to pursue policies to address our national security.”
And these pivotal senators are still missing — they’ve stayed silent in the 24 hours since Muslim Ban 2.0 was issued. They are:
Senator Jeff Flake — Arizona
Senator Dean Heller — Nevada
Senator Lisa Murkowski — Alaska
We’re looking for senators who will stand up to @realdonaldtrump & stop the #MuslimBan #NoBanNoWall. Call 1–855–923–6687 to take action.