New York Officials Respond to the New Travel Ban

People gather for a protest against President Donald Trump's new travel ban order outside the White House, March 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Protestors rallied against President Donald Trump’s new travel ban outside the White House on March 6. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump issued the newest iteration of his travel ban Monday, but the changes made to address criticism from the courts did little to sway New York politicians and advocacy groups. The state’s top elected officials have roundly rejected the new executive order and are already organizing to fight back against it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was one of the first Democrats to respond to the new executive order. In a series of tweets Monday, Schumer called it “mean-spirited and un-American,” adding that “a watered down ban is still a ban.” New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand also tweeted a response to the order, writing that the “updated #MuslimBan is still coldhearted, discriminatory, and detrimental to our security.”

The executive order that Trump signed on Monday differs from the original in several key ways. It no longer includes citizens of Iraq, green card holders or those with valid visas. It also will not go into effect until March 16, which is likely to cut down on the chaos that marred the first order’s rollout, as thousands of people rallied at airports around the country. So many protesters arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 27 that the police were forced to shut down Terminal 4 for the night.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke out against the new ban, calling it “as discriminatory as his first one.” De Blasio criticized Trump for indiscriminately targeting Muslim communities, adding “The ban is a direct reflection of the president’s misguided ideas about immigrants, refugees and homeland security.”

Arianna Soleymanloo, an Iranian-American who lives in New York, thinks the revised order is just as unacceptable as the first. The original version of the ban would have locked her father, a green card holder, out of the U.S. because he was visiting family in Iran when it was signed. But the revised ban doesn’t give her any peace of mind. “I’m still just as opposed,” she said in an interview. “It goes against the principles this country was founded on.” Soleymanloo’s father is no longer affected by the order, but she said she doesn’t feel any safer “because the government isn’t consistent on their policies.”

Rabyaah Althaibani, a Yemeni-American community activist living in Brooklyn, has been personally affected by both the old and new executive orders. Althaibani’s husband is from Yemen, and the two were in the process of applying for a visa for him to join her in the U.S. “It’s already difficult to be in this long distance and then to have your government add this burden, it’s inhumane,” she said to reporters at the offices of the New York Immigration Coalition. “I don’t know what will happen with this ban, but what I do know is I want my husband here with me.”

Protest events to combat the new order are planned around the country. Angry protesters rallied in front of the White House on Monday night, with the new head of the Democratic National Committee joining in and giving a speech. The Iranian-American Bar Association is set to hold a panel Tuesday night in New York to discuss the scope of the order and legal rights for those affected by it, and the New School will also host a discussion about the ban on Tuesday night.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who joined the lawsuit against the original travel ban, said that his office was closely studying the new order. “While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear,” said Schneiderman in a statement. “My office is closely reviewing the new executive order, and I stand ready to litigate—again—in order to protect New York’s families, institutions and economy.”

The original ban faced nearly unanimous defeat in courts around the country, with the first defeat coming from a federal judge in Brooklyn. Though the White House revised the order to address the concerns of judges around the U.S., organizations that challenged the first order remain unconvinced.

“Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban remains fundamentally flawed,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, in a statement. “Our message to the Trump administration, both then and now, is this: We will see you in court.”