Democrats use Trump Syria strikes to re­new travel ban talks

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

The hor­rific im­ages of chil­dren gasp­ing for breath and vic­tims foam­ing at the mouth af­ter the lat­est deadly chem­i­cal weapons at­tack in Syria moved Pres­i­dent Trump to or­der a re­tal­ia­tory mis­sile strike. But Democrats are now try­ing to use Mr. Trump’s de­ci­sion to re­tal­i­ate against the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment’s gas at­tack on its own peo­ple to rally po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion against his ex­ec­u­tive or­der tem­po­rar­ily bar­ring refugees from the United States.

Sev­eral sit­ting law­mak­ers were joined in their calls by groups ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of refugees, as well as by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton, who lost the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to Mr. Trump.

“I hope this ad­min­is­tra­tion will move for­ward in a way that is both strate­gic and con­sis­tent with our val­ues,” Mrs. Clin­ton said Fri­day, speak­ing at a lun­cheon in Texas. “And I also hope that they will rec­og­nize that we can­not in one breath speak of pro­tect­ing Syr­ian ba­bies and in the next close Amer­ica’s doors to them.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is en­trenched in a se­ries of court bat­tles over the pres­i­dent’s re­vised ex­ec­u­tive or­der on travel and refugees, which would tem­po­rar­ily ban travel to the U.S. by na­tion­als of six ma­jor­i­tyMus­lim coun­tries — in­clud­ing Syria — and would tem­po­rar­ily halt all refugee re­set­tle­ment. En­force­ment of the or­der is cur­rently paused by fed­eral courts.

The pres­i­dent said he was greatly dis­turbed by the im­ages com­ing out of Syria, but ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said there was no dis­cus­sion of chang­ing the refugee pol­icy as de­lib­er­a­tions over Thurs­day’s mil­i­tary ac­tion took place.

“No, that wasn’t dis­cussed as any part of the de­lib­er­a­tions,” Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Thurs­day when asked about the refugee pol­icy.

Demo­cratic law­mak­ers, many of whom have pre­vi­ously spo­ken out against the ex­ec­u­tive or­der, say it’s dif­fi­cult to square the pres­i­dent’s con­cern for vic­tims of the Syr­ian sarin gas at­tack with his pol­icy seek­ing to limit refugee re­set­tle­ment.

“If Pres­i­dent Trump is, as he claims, mo­ti­vated by hu­man­i­tar­ian im­pulses and a con­cern for the suf­fer­ing of Syr­ian civil­ians, then we should see a re­dou­bling of hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts, an in­crease in hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance fund­ing and a lift­ing of the refugee ban. Cruise mis­siles alone are not a so­lu­tion,” said Rep. Don­ald S. Beyer Jr., Vir­ginia Demo­crat.

Sen. Ka­mala D. Har­ris, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said the ad­min­is­tra­tion should con­sult with Congress on its path for­ward in deal­ing with Syria, in­clud­ing a re­con­sid­er­a­tion of its ex­ec­u­tive or­der. If the pres­i­dent was moved to act by im­ages of slaugh­tered Syr­ian chil­dren, Ms. Har­ris said those im­ages “should also com­pel the ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­think its mis­guided refugee pol­icy and open our doors to the chil­dren and fam­i­lies flee­ing on­go­ing vi­o­lence and op­pres­sion in Syria and else­where.”

Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings, Mary­land Demo­crat, called for Mr. Trump to im­me­di­ately re­scind his ban on refugees.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment, which is de­fend­ing the ex­ec­u­tive or­der in court, de­clined to com­ment Fri­day on whether there have been any dis­cus­sions of al­ter­ing the pol­icy. It’s un­clear how the Jus­tice De­part­ment might ad­dress the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s dra­matic turnaround re­gard­ing the mil­i­tary strike in court fil­ings that are due Fri­day in one key travel ban case.

Omar Jadwat, direc­tor of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union’s Im­mi­grants’ Rights Project, said if the pres­i­dent was able to re­con­sider his po­si­tion on mil­i­tary strikes in Syria, he should also be will­ing to take a fresh look at the ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

“It ap­pears that see­ing first­hand footage of the atroc­i­ties in Syria caused Pres­i­dent Trump to reassess his view on mil­i­tary ac­tion there,” said Mr. Jadwat, who ar­gued one of the travel ban chal­lenges against the ad­min­is­tra­tion. “By the same to­ken, it should make him reassess his view on whether to al­low peo­ple from Syria, who are seek­ing safety from ex­actly these types of ac­tions, to come to the United States.”

The In­ter­na­tional Refugee As­sis­tance Project, not­ing that the con­flict in Syria has “caused the largest refugee cri­sis the world has ever seen,” urged the pres­i­dent to de­velop a hu­man­i­tar­ian re­sponse.

“Rather than pay lip ser­vice to the plight of in­no­cent Syr­ian chil­dren, Pres­i­dent Trump should pro­vide ac­tual so­lu­tions for the chil­dren who have been lan­guish­ing in refugee camps for years,” read a state­ment from the group, which was among those who have filed law­suits against the ad­min­is­tra­tion over the ex­ec­u­tive or­der. “Many refugee chil­dren have been left in life or death sit­u­a­tions fol­low­ing the Pres­i­dent’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der, which sus­pends and se­verely cur­tails the U.S. re­set­tle­ment pro­gram.”

“By the same to­ken, it should make him reassess his view on whether to al­low peo­ple from Syria, who are seek­ing safety from ex­actly these types of ac­tions, to come to the United States.”

— Omar Jadwat, Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union’s Im­mi­grants’ Rights Project

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump was mo­ti­vated to re­tal­i­ate against Syr­ian forces in the wake of a chem­i­cal at­tack re­sult­ing in the hor­ri­fy­ing deaths of chil­dren. Democrats are hope­ful the pres­i­dent’s at­ten­tion to the re­gion’s suf­fer­ing peo­ple will al­low for an open­ing in re­new­ing talks about re­scind­ing Mr. Trump’s Mid­dle East travel ban.

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