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Faith groups: New immigration order still anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant

Protesters outside the White House on Jan. 29, 2017, demonstrating against President Donald Trump's original travel ban. RNS Photo by Jerome Socolovsky

(RNS) Federal judges may find the President Trump’s new executive order on immigration more acceptable than the last.

But many religious groups and faith leaders see no meaningful difference in the new measure, which Trump signed privately Monday (March 6).

“Make no mistake, this is the Muslim ban that President Trump and his aides have been promising,” Farhana Khera, president of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement. “The administration is just rearranging the chairs at the same table.”

Critics of what Khera calls “Muslim Ban 2.0″ argue that it still singles out only Muslim-majority nations, and fuels Islamophobia already on the rise in the U.S.

“President Trump’s revised executive order is still a Muslim ban, and it’s still bigoted and un-American,” Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said in a statement.

Faith leaders also take issue with the new order’s limitations on the resettlement of refugees as a refutation of the religious requirement to shelter the most vulnerable.

“While it appears that the Administration has sought to correct some of the flaws contained in the first executive order, this newly issued one still prevents us from undertaking life saving work during the most critical time for refugees and displaced persons in human history,” Linda Hartke, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, said in a statement.

“The new order doubles down on demonizing refugees – implying that America should fear those who have been persecuted, tortured, threatened, and victimized by terrorists,” she continued.

The  new ban differs from the executive order Trump signed on Jan. 27 on several points that the Trump administration hopes will blunt criticism and help the new order pass legal muster. (A federal appeals court stayed Trump’s first order on Feb. 3).

The revised executive order:

  • Allows Syrians to be resettled in the U.S. after a 120-day ban. They were indefinitely excluded under the previous ban.
  • Drops Iraq from the original list of seven Muslim majority nations from which foreign nationals are blocked for 90 days from entering the U.S. The remaining six countries are: Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iran,
  • Removes the preference given to refugees from members of minority religious groups, such as Christians — a distinction many Christian groups considered unChristian.

But some who advocate for the Middle East’s beleaguered Christian minorities worry that the removal of special protections for minority religions necessitates a new order to address their suffering at the hand of the group known as the Islamic State.

“There’s a dire need for Pres. Trump to issue a separate executive order — one specifically aimed to help ISIS genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria,” Nina Shea, director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, said in a statement after the new executive order’s release.

“For three years, the Christians, Yizidis and others of the smallest religious minorities have been targeted by ISIS with beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture and sexual enslavement,” she said.

The new order, set to go into affect on March 16, also contains exceptions for dual citizens and holders of green cards who want to travel to the U.S. from the restricted countries.

“It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters after Trump signed the new order. “As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually reevaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country.”

Under the new order, no refugees will be accepted into the U.S. for  120 days, and the number will not exceed 50,000 refugees in a year — compared to the 110,000 allowed under former President Obama.

“The language of the ban is slightly changed, but the results for refugees are the same,” said Mark Hetfield, CEO of HIAS, a Jewish agency that resettles immigrants.

“Even for the thousands of refugees who have already followed all the rules, and have already been subject to extreme security vetting, President Trump will not allow them into the United States.”

(Reuters contributed to this report)

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

9 Comments

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  • Once again, it’s apparent that anyone who actually believes an executive order like this improves national security rather than being a manifestation of racism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, and political posturing, is dumb as a fence post.

  • If that were the case. This order shows some real holes.

    If he is acting for saftey why these countries? If he’s trusting the previous administrations assertion, why now leave Iraq out? Whats changed? What information is driving a ban on these countries if not the previous administration?

    If current green card holders can enter the country, then the system can’t be as broken as he says?

    If bad people will take advantage of the system, like he’s tweeted, why the slow roll out?

    This does nothing to protect the USA.

  • The assertion that it does is not made from a factual basis. It is made due to the assertion xenophobia and religious bigotry protects the country.

  • Protecting us from things like due process, accountability of the presidency, religious freedom and rule of law.

    “anyone who actually believes an executive order like this improves national security rather than being a manifestation of racism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, and political posturing, is dumb as a fence post.”

    When referring to people who are dumb as a fence post, you gladly stepped up to identify yourself as such. 🙂

  • Some who? Terrorist?

    It’s ultimately I think its a question of at what cost? How many woman and children refugees are American Citizens content to leave in harms way for the illusion of saftey?

  • Philip, you need to think like someone who hates the USA. They will try to enter the country to do their deeds in any manner they can. Now, someone who lacks that intelligence just may be put off thinking they’ll have a difficult time entering the country.

  • In this we actually agree.

    My point, is that because a person willing to do you harm will do anything (break all and any laws) to enter new laws won’t keep them out. Like locking a door. If they want in, they’ll just break a window. What it does do however if keep families, woman and children, fleeing for their lives out. It doesn’t make the country safer.

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