Trump Defends Travel Ban Despite Protests, Legal Action
President Donald Trump is defending his executive order that bans people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
The order was signed by Trump on Friday. It puts a 90-day entry ban on people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. It also prevents refugees from entering the country for 120 days.
Trump has repeatedly called for more controls on U.S. immigration to improve national security and prevent terrorists from entering.
His administration has said U.S. policies used to investigate people coming into the United States from certain countries will be reviewed while the current ban is in place.
Travel ban led to protests
Thousands of people protested the order at U.S. airports and other locations, including the White House. Immigration groups, human rights activists and some foreign governments and organizations criticized the ban. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers also spoke out against the order.
The order led to confusion at many American airports over the weekend. In some cases, people were detained at airports while holding legal documents allowing them to live and work in the United States.
A federal judge in New York took action Saturday to block the travel restrictions. Judge Ann Donnelly issued a temporary ban on deportations of people arriving at U.S. airports if they were carrying approved visas or refugee applications. Judges in several other states also issued rulings challenging Trump’s order.
The Department of Homeland Security said Sunday it planned to “comply with judicial orders.” It added that Trump’s order would continue to be enforced to make sure those entering “do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.”
Trump defended the travel ban
President Trump took to Twitter on Monday to defend the order. The tweet said, “There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter the country. This was a big part of my campaign. study the world!”
He defended the decision to launch the ban without notice. “If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the 'bad' would rush into our country during that week,” he tweeted.
Trump also took aim at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has criticized the travel restrictions. The Democratic senator appeared to hold back tears while speaking with reporters about the order.
At the White House Monday, Trump spoke about Schumer’s reaction. “I noticed Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears - I'm going to ask him who was his acting coach, because I know him very well. I don't see him as a crier.”
Other U.S. lawmakers were critical of the ban, including Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
The senators wrote in a joint statement, “We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security."
"Such a hasty process risks harmful results.”
Trump responded to the statement on Twitter, saying McCain and Graham were both "weak on immigration." He added that the two senators should be more focused on illegal immigration, border security and the Islamic State.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed support for stronger immigrant screening, but said he opposes religious tests.
McConnell told ABC News, "I also think it's important to remember that some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims, both in this country and overseas."
Several Democrats in Congress said they planned to introduce legislation to stop Trump's travel ban.
Former President Barack Obama responded
Former President Barack Obama also responded to the travel ban and praised protesters for showing their opposition to it.
Obama's spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said, “The president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion."
It is the first time Obama has issued a statement about Trump since leaving office on January 20.
Some Trump administration officials have compared Trump’s order to a policy carried out under Obama. That policy, put in place in 2011, identified the same seven nations as places of concern for terrorism. But the Obama policy only related to individuals without a U.S. visa and was never considered a travel ban.
Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis added, “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake."
Reactions from overseas
Foreign leaders and organizations around the world were also critical of Trump’s order.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said the 28-nation group is currently studying the ban. In an interview, commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said choices had to be made “about the world we want to live in.” He said one choice is for, in his words, “isolationism and inequality,” while the other is to unite for social equality and strength.
International aid group Doctors Without Borders accused Trump of keeping people "trapped in war zones, directly endangering their lives.” It called on the U.S. government to lift the ban and restart the resettlement of refugees.
In Germany, a foreign ministry spokesman said “tens of thousands” of people are likely to be affected by the travel ban. German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed regret about order, but stopped short of condemning it.
The world's largest body of Islamic nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, condemned the order in a statement. The 57-nation group called the policy “selective and discriminatory,” saying it will only fuel further extremist violence and terrorism.
Businesses criticized the travel ban
Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai said Trump’s travel ban could be “painful” for some of the 187 employees reportedly affected.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg added that the door should not be closed to refugees “and those who need help.”
In a statement to employees, Ford Motor Company said it opposed the travel restrictions. “We do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company," it said.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein also spoke out against the order. In a message to his employees, he said, “I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily."
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.
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