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  March 1, 2017

ACLU: Travel Ban 2.0 Still Targets Muslims, Remains Unconstitutional

Trump's revised travel ban is still discriminatory, won't stop terrorism, and must be resisted, says Lee Gelernt of the ACLU and Noor Mir of the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition
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JAISAL NOOR: On Monday, March 6th, Civil Liberties advocates vowed to challenge President Donald Trump's revised executive order that bans citizens from six Muslim majority nations from travelling to the United States. It removes Iraq from the list, after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts. The new order, which the White House said Trump has signed, keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

All countries that have been previously, or currently are, subjected to U.S. military or political intervention. Lee Gelernt, the immigrant rights project director at the ACLU said, "The new executive order is not good enough."

LEE GELERNT: The new executive order eliminates certain individual's lawful permanent residence, Iraqis, who were part of the first order, but it does not eliminate the central constitutional problem. In our view, the first order was based on religious discrimination, and this order is as well. So, we will continue to challenge it.

JAISAL NOOR: Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said the move is necessary to keep America safe.

REX TILLERSON: 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.

As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate, and re-assess the systems we rely upon to protect our country.

JAISAL NOOR: Trump's original travel ban had resulted in massive demonstrations, including in airports around the country. And more than two dozen law suits in U.S. courts.

The State of Washington succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, by arguing that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

Gelernt said, "The new order also relies on religious discrimination, and therefore it remains unconstitutional."

LEE GELERNT: The main problem we have with the second executive order is, we believe it's based on a religious discrimination. The President's statements leading up to the first executive order, his statements afterward and the language of the first executive order, all reveal that what is essentially going on, is a ban against Muslims. The fact that they've tweaked the order does not eliminate that taint.

We will continue with our lawsuits. We don't believe we need to file new lawsuits; we will just amend our existing lawsuits. And we have roughly 12 lawsuits around the country. Some are further along than others. We will just simply amend those lawsuits to challenge this new executive order.

JAISAL NOOR: Embattled U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, claims domestic terror attacks are linked to immigrants and refugees.

JEFF SESSIONS: As President Trump 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 many people seeking to support, or commit terrorist acts, will try to enter through our refugee program.

In fact, today more than 300 people, according to the FBI, who came here as refugees, are under an FBI investigation today for potential terrorism related activities.

JAISAL NOOR: But Noor Mir, an organizer with the D.C. Justice for Muslims Coalition says the narrative is false.

NOOR MIR: Sure. So, thanks for bringing up what Jeff Sessions said. And I think it actually highlights the problem with the good Muslim/bad Muslim binary that so many Muslim advocates, organizers, citizens, non-citizens of this country are used to responding to, is that this ban is something that's here to make the U.S. safer.

And even though the FBI did say that there are over 300 people that, you know, are classified as refugees, I do wonder how many of those have actually committed what they call acts of terrorism, post-9/11. I think that while we definitely have had, you know, incidents happen in the U.S. You know, I would say based on my analysis that, the majority of those people are homegrown on U.S. soil.

I think that has a lot more to do with the United States, and it's endemic racism, and imperialism, than it has to do with any of the politics of these people that are coming in.

JAISAL NOOR: I wanted to add that in many of those cases, those people are also entrapped, by the FBI. And so, they're radicalized through FBI informants. Can you comment on that, as well?

NOOR MIR: Well, just recently, I know The Centre for Constitutional Rights, is still involved in the lawsuit around folks that actually refused to be informants. And then the FBI said that they would actually put them on a no-fly list, if they did not comply. So, I think that you bring up a really good point about what extremism really means, when it's something that's implemented at the hands of the state.

The second thing I know that you brought up, you know, what Sessions was saying about refugees. And, you know, right now they've decided to suspend that program and cap it at 50,000, but I would say that the United States was still woefully behind, when it came to refugee admittance under Obama.

NOOR JAISAL: Notably absent, are U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, which have been accused of funding the 9/11 attacks, as well as ISIS militants in Syria.

NOOR MIR: But when we do talk about Saudi Arabia, and even Iraq right now being removed from the list, I think it goes to say, you know, what are the United States geopolitical strategic interests in the region? Whether that's fighting against ISIS or whether that's bombing and completely destroying Yemen, a war that barely anyone pays attention to.

So, I think, you know, this goes hand-in-hand with the U.S. foreign policy, in fact I would say that this is driven by U.S. foreign policy, and not at all something that is about domestic safety or interests.

JAISAL NOOR: She's helping organize a protest at Customs and Border Control Headquarters, in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning. More protests are expected across the country.

NOOR MIR: I hope that people show out in the same force that they did with the first one. I know that, you know, the way that him and the entire cabinet, roll out these decisions, is very well timed with where people's interests levels are at.

So, I would just ask for all of our allies and non-Muslims to stay focused, and realize that this is not at all different; it's just worded in a way that is a little bit more palatable.

JAISAL NOOR: From Baltimore, this is Jaisal Noor.




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