Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer—the most powerful Democrat in Washington—unleashed a tweetstorm assailing President Donald Trump‘s revised ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries.
A bevy of unfavorable federal court rulings blocked the implementation of Trump’s initial attempt at temporarily barring arrivals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and Somalia via executive order in January, prompting the administration to announce it would issue a new fiat instead of defending the original. Much of the protest and legal pain surrounding the first edict came from its obstruction of people cleared to enter the country under President Barack Obama—so the new order will apply only to the processing of new visa applications, and will take effect March 16 instead of immediately.
General John Kelly, Trump’s secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, asserted the 90 to 120-day pause is necessary so that the U.S. and the governments of the impacted nations can verify that individuals entering the country as immigrants or refugees are not linked to terrorist groups.
“The executive order signed today by President Trump will make America safer, and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system. We must undertake a rigorous review of our visa and refugee vetting programs to increase our confidence in the entry decisions we make for visitors and immigrants to the United States. We cannot risk the prospect of malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives,” Kelly said in a statement to the press. “It is important to note that nothing in this executive order affects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country. If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you. But unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.”
The new order excludes Iraq, a change made in the interest of supporting the nation’s embattled, U.S.-backed government. The fiat will instate a 90-day moratorium on new visa applications for people coming from Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia and a 120-day cessation of arrivals from Syria—the latter a shift from the previous edict’s indefinite ban on migration from the war-shattered nation.
Using the president’s own preferred medium for communication, Schumer voiced both his ideological and practical objections to the ban: that it stands contrary to the America’s history of providing haven to immigrants, and that it will not achieve the president’s professed goal of making the country safer.
The senior senator from New York also retweeted a graphic from the Center for American Progress, an organization founded by John Podesta, former campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton. The image argues the 120-day break in accepting refugees from Syria will cause countless bureaucratic hang-ups for people who have already completed key steps of the visa application process.
Schumer reiterated his previous points in a final tweet.
No individual from the six affected countries has committed a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, although the Obama administration also identified their governments as unstable and their vetting methods as potentially unreliable. During the Republican primary campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” a position he revised to “extreme vetting” during the run-up to the general election.
Advocates have argued that the president’s order is Islamophobic and will alienate moderate Muslims, while exposing innocent people fleeing violence and despotism to undue danger.
The new decree also drew swift criticism from New York’s highest-ranking Democratic member of the House, Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley. Crowley, who chairs the Democratic conference, equated the president’s executive order with his aggressive enforcement against undocumented immigrants and his plans for a wall along the Mexican border.