© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Is Trump's Revised Travel Order Disguising A Muslim Ban?


We've been hearing different voices this morning reacting to President Trump's revised ban on travel to the United States from certain countries. His first attempt was blocked in federal court. We expect this new executive order to be challenged as well. One of the groups that went to court is the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Gadeir Abbas is an attorney with CAIR and joins us on the line. Good morning.

GADEIR ABBAS: Good morning. How are you?

GREENE: I'm good. Thank you. So this executive order seems narrower. Green card holders, current visa holders - not affected. More exemptions exist. One country, Iraq, taken off the list. Is this more acceptable than the original?

ABBAS: It's equally unacceptable because it continues to treat Muslim immigrants differently than it does other types of immigrants. But it is a huge step back from the ledge. The fact that green card holders are not affected by this executive order, the fact that current visa holders aren't going to have their status yanked out of their hands while they're in their country or while they're on route to the U.S. is a testament to the work of the tens of thousands that showed up at airports, the lawsuits that flooded courts across the country.

But make no mistake about it. This executive order is still motivated by a desire to broadcast the message of condemnation against Islam, against Muslims. And it does that by treating them differently and subjecting them to a different process.

GREENE: Now, the White House would argue that there are many populous Muslim countries that are not included here. It is not about religion. It's about protecting the country. How do you intend to prove intent, that this is a ban that is based on religion, if that's indeed what you're going to argue?

ABBAS: Well, thankfully, the Trump administration makes it pretty easy to do because all we have to do is we can take President Trump's words during the campaign where he described this effort as a Muslim ban back in the early stages of his campaign. When Rudy Giuliani just earlier this year described the genesis of the facially neutral language of the original executive order, he described it as a way of pursuing an illegal, discriminatory ban in a somehow lawful way.

But the law takes into account the intent and the government is not able to - and the Constitution forbids in the very First Amendment - the ability for the government to wield its authority in a way that's designed to stigmatize and impose a discriminatory effect onto a religious group.

GREENE: Let me just ask you - we spoke this morning to Republican Congressman Bill Johnson of Ohio. He pointed to a knife attack carried out by a Somali refugee at Ohio State. Now, even though, you know, we brought up to him that it's U.S. citizens who have carried out more acts of violence, worse acts of violence, he said here is a specific attack that would have been prevented by this ban. Why is he wrong?

ABBAS: Well, he's wrong because he's not talking about the millions of doctors appointments that immigrants from these six countries provide to American citizens. He's not talking about all the great contributions that immigrants - including my parents, who are immigrants from Iraq - have made to this country. And so, you know, bigotry always finds a - an example to justify it's discrimination. And here, if the standard is has someone from one of these countries ever done something wrong, well, the answer is yeah. But if that's the standard, then there will be no immigration to America.

GREENE: OK. Gadeir Abbas is an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Thanks so much.

ABBAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.