The Trump administration’s second swipe at a travel ban and temporary suspension of the US refugee resettlement program has met with swift backlash from leading human rights groups and activist opponents, who are already planninig protests in response to the Monday order.
“This replacement order is the same hate and fear with new packaging,” Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement released minutes after the details were made public. “No amount of editing can make this executive order anything but what it is – blatant bigotry.”
The White House has blamed a chaotic rollout for stirring a week of protests in response to the first order, issued on January 27. A series of subsequent court decisions have effectively blocked the initial ban, which will be revoked when the one issued on Monday goes into effect on March 16.
The new order does not prioritize minorities in refugee admissions, exempts individuals holding current visas and scratches an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, who will now be subject to a 120-day halt. It also removes Iraq from the list of countries whose visitors will be temporarily banned.
Anticipating future court battles, administration officials have argued that the second order is designed to avoid targeting any specific religion.
“(The order is) not any way targeted as a Muslim ban,” an official told reporters. “We want to make sure everyone understands that.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union dismissed that claim, arguing that any move to block travel from Muslim-majority countries represents an implicit “Muslim ban.”
“The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people.”
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the new deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and one of two Muslim members of Congress, responded immediately, tweeting, “Trump’s Muslim Ban is still a Muslim Ban.”
He added: “On Campaign, @realDonaldTrump called for ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’ Now, says ‘what Muslim Ban?’”
Plans for another round of protests began to crop up Sunday night and into Monday, as it became clear that a revised order would be signed early this week and take effect in 10 days. That’s one large difference between the original action, which was unveiled and implemented at the same time on a Friday evening without prior notification.
On Facebook, activist groups have begun to plan demonstrations against the new order.
One of the first to pop up, called “A Rally in Support of Refugees, Immigrants, and Muslims,” is scheduled to take place on Monday night outside the White House.
“A revised version of the #MuslimBan Executive Order is expected to be signed on Monday, March 6,” organizers wrote ahead of the White House announcement. “Let’s make sure we send a strong message to the administration that we will continue to oppose any policies that will discriminate against Muslims, refugees, and immigrants.”
Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said organizers have spent weeks preparing for the revised order.
“The fact that Trump weakly hid from TV cameras while signing this new Muslim ban shows that the White House is girding for more protests like they’ve never seen before,” Green said in a email.
The President signed the new order quietly in the Oval Office. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced it during an event in Washington.
Larry Cohen, the board chair for Our Revolution, a progressive group spawned by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign, said he will be among the speakers at the White House protest. New DNC chair Tom Perez is among those now slated to attend.
“We will never abandon refugees, and in this case refugees vetted countless times,” Cohen said, adding that the group was prepared to mobilize the vaunted Sanders email list. “We will mobilize our millions of supporters to once again stand up and fight back.”
A spokesman for the Working Families Party, which helped organize protests at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in January, said more demonstrations were on the way.
“Donald Trump signed his second attempt at a Muslim Ban this morning, behind closed doors, admitting that his first order was completely indefensible,” the party’s national director, Dan Cantor, said earlier. “The same goes for this one. We call on all elected officials to use every tool in their arsenal to stop this misguided and malignant executive order.”
In a statement, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led a successful challenge to halt the first order in federal court, suggested another lawsuit could be forthcoming.
“By rescinding his earlier executive order, President Trump makes one thing perfectly clear: His original travel ban was indefensible – legally, constitutionally and morally,” he said in a statement. “We are carefully reviewing the new executive order to determine its impacts on Washington state and our next legal steps.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also threatened more court action, saying in a statement on Monday, “My office is closely reviewing the new executive order, and I stand ready to litigate – again.”