DALLAS – Despite promising a court battle, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order Monday banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries.
The new executive order, which takes effect in 10 days, has dropped Iraq from the list.
“Fear and anger. The community is scared,” said Nikiya Natale, the civil rights director for the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “Why issue this executive order? What more could it be other than the fear of Islam.”
The anxiety follows the signing of that second travel ban, she said. CAIR was instrumental in the release of several detainees at Dallas/Fort Wort International Airport in January following the original travel ban.
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“Everyone’s really afraid right now, and obviously really angry,” Natale said. “We have U.S. born citizens who are calling saying, ‘Nikiya, is it OK if I take a trip to New York?’”
There are a couple big changes when it comes to the new travel ban. The latest version no longer bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, there are no exceptions for religious minorities under the order, and it does not apply to dual citizens and those with valid U.S. visas.
The new order also suspends the entire refugee program for four months. According to Refugee Services of Texas, of the 112 refugees approved by the United Nations and the U.S. State Department to be resettled in Texas by the end of February, 57 have been canceled because of the ban. The state of Texas takes in the second highest number of refugees across the country, based on statistics from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
“The consistent and inappropriate conflation between refugees and terrorism is unfounded and unconscionable and represents a dark moment in the history of the United States,” said Aaron Rippenkroeger, president and CEO of Refugee Services of Texas, in a statement. “Refugees are fleeing violence and persecution to find a new home for their families in peace and safety.”
For now, the order affects citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who's currently under scrutiny for his interactions with Russia during the presidential campaign, spoke to reporters Monday about the ban.
“Three of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism," he said. "The other three have served as safe havens for terrorist countries, countries where governments have lost control of their territory to terrorist groups like ISIL or Al Qaeda and its affiliates. This increases the risk that people are admitted here from these countries may belong to terrorist groups or may have been radicalized by them.”
In response to the revised immigration order, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement that read in part, “President Trump’s action shows decisiveness in answer to a very real danger.”
The American Civil Liberties Union condemns the new order. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project also released a statement, saying in part that “the only way to fix the Muslim ban is not have a Muslim ban.”
It's a sentiment shared by critics of the order in Dallas like Chris Hamilton, an attorney who went to D/FW Airport following the original ban to help fight the order.
“I don’t think that this order is going to create the same chaos as the last one," he said. It does look like lawyers reviewed it. But it still fundamentally violates the separation of church and state. To have an order that continues to fulfill a campaign promise that was referred to as a Muslim Ban, violates the constitution.”