WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) — Democrats blasted President Trump's revised immigrant travel restrictions Monday, charging that they remain essentially a "Muslim ban" despite the president's decision to remove Iraq from the list of six countries covered by his executive order.
"A watered down ban is still a ban," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who predicted the latest order would face "the same uphill climb" in court. "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 It must be repealed."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he believes Trump's revised order is better and will "pass legal muster."
"I congratulate the Administration for modifying the original order to ensure that it is prospective in application, protective of those with valid visas and legal status, and exempts Iraqis, as five thousand Americans are currently fighting alongside them against (the Islamic State)," Graham said. "I believe the new order will withstand legal challenges as it’s drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., dismissed the changes as nothing more than "repackaging."
"The Trump Administration’s repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional and dangerous goals of their Muslim and refugee ban," she said. "This is the same ban, with the same purpose, driven by the same dangerous discrimination that weakens our ability to fight terror."
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is Muslim, declared on Twitter that "Trump's Muslim Ban is still a Muslim Ban."
Trump's Muslim Ban is still a Muslim Ban. https://t.co/WtL7B8eg75— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) March 6, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the revised 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," Ryan said. "We will continue to work with President Trump to keep our country safe."
House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who criticized the Trump administration's abrupt, confusing rollout of its original order, said his committee will be overseeing the president's latest effort to ensure it is handled better.
"I have long supported taking bold steps to keep terrorists from entering America," McCaul said. "I look forward to reading the details of the President’s new executive order and conducting oversight to ensure it is implemented smoothly. This month, I am also launching a bipartisan congressional task force focused on closing security gaps that might be exploited by jihadists to sneak into our country, and I hope the Administration will work closely with us to put in place new security checks to protect our people from the threat of terror."
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted that the new travel order still targets Muslims and is "still illegal."
Version 2 of the ban still targets Muslims, still inspires more terrorism, still violates our founding principles. Oh, and still illegal. https://t.co/b80kX16G2D— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 6, 2017
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Trump's action will "strengthen our immigration and refugee screening process."
"It’s refreshing to see an administration that isn’t ashamed to uphold the most important Constitutional responsibility of the federal government: to protect the American people," Gosar said. "We can no longer ignore the facts that leaders from the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security have testified before Congress that they do not have the necessary resources to thoroughly vet immigrants and refugees from terrorist strongholds. There is no question that the Constitution and federal law grant the president the authority to take these necessary actions, which will not only protect the homeland but also safeguard refugees and legal immigrants."