Travel ban redux to be chal­lenged

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - Staff writer Steve John­son con­trib­uted to this story.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Mon­day signed a re­worked ver­sion of his travel ban, aim­ing to with­stand court chal­lenges while still bar­ring new visas for ci­ti­zens from six Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity coun­tries and tem­po­rar­ily shut­ting down Amer­ica’s refugee pro­gram.

Here in Ten­nessee, the or­der was praised by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., but crit­i­cized by lo­cal im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­neys and ac­tivists.

“We all share a de­sire to pro­tect

the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and re­view­ing our na­tion’s screen­ing and vet­ting pro­ce­dures is an ap­pro­pri­ate step,” Corker said in a state­ment Mon­day af­ter­noon. “Fol­low­ing a thor­ough re­view and im­ple­men­ta­tion of nec­es­sary se­cu­rity en­hance­ments, I am hope­ful these pro­grams will be re­in­stated.”

But Stephanie Teatro, co-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Ten­nessee Im­mi­grant and Refugee Rights Coali­tion, coun­tered that, “con­trary to spec­u­la­tion last week that the pres­i­dent was ‘soft­en­ing’ his ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion, to­day’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der makes clear that his ad­min­is­tra­tion is in­tent on tak­ing a wreck­ing ball to the Statue of Lib­erty.”

The re­vised travel or­der leaves Iraq off the list of banned coun­tries but still af­fects would-be vis­i­tors and im­mi­grants from Iran, Syria, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Ye­men and Libya.

Trump pri­vately signed the new or­der Mon­day, while Home­land Se­cu­rity Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tiller­son and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions for­mally un­veiled the new edict. They did not take ques­tions from re­porters.

The low-key roll­out was in con­trast to the first ver­sion of the or­der, which Trump signed a week af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion in a high-pro­file cer­e­mony at the Pen­tagon’s Hall of He­roes as Secretary of De­fense James Mat­tis stood by.

Trump of­fi­cials said that even with the changes, the goal of the new or­der hasn’t changed: keep­ing would-be ter­ror­ists out of the United States while the gov­ern­ment re­views the vet­ting sys­tem for refugees and visa ap­pli­cants from cer­tain parts of the world.

Tiller­son de­scribed the new or­der Mon­day morn­ing as “a vi­tal mea­sure for strength­en­ing our na­tional se­cu­rity.”

The orig­i­nal travel ban caused chaos at air­ports around the coun­try as Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials scram­bled to in­ter­pret how it was to be im­ple­mented and trav­el­ers were de­tained be­fore be­ing sent back over­seas or blocked from get­ting on air­planes abroad. The or­der quickly be­came the subject of sev­eral le­gal chal­lenges and was put on hold last month by a fed­eral judge in Wash­ing­ton state. The orig­i­nal or­der was re­scinded Mon­day.

Kelly said Congress and oth­ers have been briefed about the or­der, which won’t take ef­fect un­til March 16, and there should be no sur­prises. He called the ef­fort “prospec­tive” and re­it­er­ated that it ap­plies only to refugees who aren’t al­ready on their way to the United States and peo­ple seek­ing new visas.

The White House dropped Iraq from the list of tar­geted coun­tries af­ter pres­sure from the Pen­tagon and State Depart­ment, which noted Iraq’s role in fight­ing the Is­lamic State group. An Iraqi spokesman said the change marks a “pos­i­tive step” and shows the coun­tries have a “real part­ner­ship.”

Syr­i­ans also are no longer sub­jected to an in­def­i­nite ban, de­spite Trump’s in­sis­tence as a can­di­date that Syr­i­ans posed a se­ri­ous se­cu­rity threat.

Im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­neys in Chat­tanooga said they ex­pect the or­der to be quickly chal­lenged in court.

“I think the same core prob­lem ex­ists: over­all, the ban is un­con­sti­tu­tional,” said Brit­tany Faith, an at­tor­ney with Grant Kon­va­linka & Har­ri­son. “With the [March 16] no­tice, this time it won’t be quite as chaotic, peo­ple won’t be rush­ing to the air­ports to protest.”

At­tor­ney Terry Olsen said he has a client from Ye­men who was hop­ing to get a visa to bring his fam­ily to the U.S., but now won’t know whether that will hap­pen for an­other six months. The fam­ily “has been wait­ing to get an in­ter­view sched­uled for the last six months for an im­mi­grant visa, and now they will have to wait even longer,” said Olsen, who is chair­man of the im­mi­gra­tion sec­tion of the state bar of Ten­nessee.

Olsen down­played the im­pact of the new ex­ec­u­tive or­der com­pared to a pre­vi­ous or­der that al­lows fed­eral cus­toms agents to deny visas to those who have been charged with a crime or com­mit­ted el­e­ments of a crime, even if they have not been con­victed. That has greatly broad­ened an agent’s lee­way to bar some­one, Olsen said.

Im­mi­gra­tion lawyer Martin Lester said the lat­est or­der has the same prob­lem as the first ver­sion that was stalled in court — the ad­min­is­tra­tion has not made a clear con­nec­tion be­tween the terms of the or­der and its stated goals, keep­ing ter­ror­ists out of the U.S. Lester noted a re­cent Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity re­port that con­cluded ci­ti­zens from the six banned coun­tries had no record of caus­ing a large num­ber of ter­ror at­tacks. The Sept. 11 at­tack­ers, he said, were from Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt, Le­banon and the United Arab Emi­rates, which are not on the travel ban list.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.