President Donald Trump banned travel from Yemen, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria and Sudan
Those six countries are majority Muslim but the administration denies its a 'Muslim ban'
The two Muslim members of Congress swiftly blasted President Donald Trump’s new version of the travel ban as still targeting Muslim-majority countries – raising the critical issue which stalled the first ban in court.
“Here we go again…Muslim Ban 2.0 #NoBanNoWall,” tweeted Democratic Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana, the second Muslim elected to Congress and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
And Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress a decade ago, tweeted: “On Campaign, @realDonaldTrump called for ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’ Now, says ‘what Muslim Ban?’”
Ellison later reiterated his tweet to CNN, calling it a “lawyered up” version of his first executive order.
“It’s a Muslim ban,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s a revised one. It’s a lawyered up one. The man said he wanted a complete and total ban of Muslims. And then it gets struck down … and then he comes back a few days later with something else. He is trying to restrict access to the United States because of their religion. The people that it does ban are banned because it’s Muslim.”
Trump signed a new ban late Monday morning that excludes Iraq from the list of targeted countries and also dropped troublesome language from the first ban that promised to promote Christian refugees, but fed into the successful legal argument that Trump had targeted Muslims. The new order bans immigration from six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan.
Administration officials said Monday that they do not see the ban as targeting a specific religion.
“(The order is) not any way targeted as a Muslim ban. … [W]e want to make sure everyone understands that,” an official told reporters.
US travel ban: How it evolved
Unlike the rollout of the first travel ban, which caught many of Trump’s Republican supporters off-guard and stunned, the new version won the immediate backing of top Republicans.
“This revised executive order advances our shared goal of protecting the homeland. I commend the administration and (Homeland Security Secretary John) Kelly in particular for their hard work on this measure to improve our vetting standards. We will continue to work with President Trump to keep our country safe,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who along with Sen. John McCain, had been an outspoken critic of the original travel ban, congratulated Trump on the new ban, which he said doesn’t discriminate based on religion and instead focuses on immigrants from “compromised governments and failed states.”
“I have always shared President Trump’s desire to protect our homeland,” Graham said in a statement. “This Executive Order will achieve the goal of protecting our homeland and will, in my view, pass legal muster.”
But Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer predicted Monday that the improved coordination and narrower scope would have little effect on the new ban’s chances in the courts.
“Despite their best efforts, I fully expect this executive order to have the same uphill climb in the courts that the previous version had,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “A watered-down ban is still a ban. Despite the Administration’s changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited, and un-American. It must be repealed.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.