Ellison on travel ban: 'Just because it's legal doesn't make it right'

Trump's new travel ban: One thing to know
Trump's new travel ban: One thing to know

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Trump's new travel ban: One thing to know 01:25

Story highlights

  • The revised ban comes after Trump's original order was temporarily blocked by federal courts
  • Ellison said the new order amounts to religious discrimination

(CNN)The possibility that President Donald Trump's revised travel ban may pass legal muster doesn't make it ethical, Rep. Keith Ellison said Friday.

"Just because it's legal doesn't make it right," Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day."
The new travel ban came weeks after Trump's original executive order was temporarily blocked by federal courts. The revised order removes language in the original that indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and called for prioritizing the admission of refugees who are religious minorities in their home countries. It also bans immigration from six Muslim-majority countries.
    The Minnesota Democrat said that regardless of revisions, the origin of Trump's controversial executive order is religious discrimination.
    "It starts out with bad intentions. He campaigned on a Muslim ban. He said that explicitly," Ellison said. "It has changed, but it's not changed to the point where it's no longer intended to harm and block people based on their religion."
    Ellison said the Trump administration still has not presented evidence that the ban protects Americans from terrorism. He said the list of banned countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen -- does not include any nations that have had immigrants commit acts of terror in the US.
    "The list is actually irrational. The problem with trying to cleanse it from its original taint is that then you end up with just an irrational policy that doesn't have any real point," the congressman said.
    When the revised order was announced on Monday, administration officials stressed they did not see the ban as targeting a specific religion.
    "(The order is) not any way targeted as a Muslim ban ... we want to make sure everyone understands that," an official told reporters.
    Ellison's district includes a sizable amount of immigrants and refugees from east Africa. He said keeping them from immigrating to the US is a matter of life and death.
    "Right now, east Africa is going through a major drought and famine," Ellison said. "I have a lot of people from Somalia in my district and they have loved ones in the middle of this drought."
    Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, also discussed Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He said Democrats will focus on communicating the insufficiency of the replacement plan.
    "We're trying to make sure the public understands how harmful and dangerous 'Trumpcare' really is," he said.
    Since its introduction this week, legislation from top House Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare has been heavily criticized by various health care leaders and industry stakeholders, including major doctors and hospital groups.
    Ellison said the Republicans plan will restrict the expansion of Medicaid and make cuts to the program. Ellison also said the plan harms women by making cuts to Planned Parenthood and that as many as 10 million people could lose coverage.
    "On top of that, wealthier people who were being taxed to help support this program are going to get a tax bonus with this repeal and replace," he said. "It's helping the rich, hurting the poor and the middle class. It's a bad thing."