HARTFORD, CT – U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, along with religious, college and legal experts Monday called on President Donald Trump to give up his legal fight to ban travelers to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
“The court has spoken, these orders are illegal as well as unwise and unwarranted and I urge the president to rip up these executive orders and abandon the religious-based ban that they incorporate,” Blumenthal said, at a press conference at the Franciscan Center in Hartford.
To be clear, the court hasn’t actually ruled on the underlying executive order. It’s only ruled on the district court’s decision to stay the ban.
Regardless, Blumenthal said the president ought to be directing his efforts in “fighting the real enemy – violent extremists at home and abroad.”
Blumenthal said if Trump wants to put more effort and resources into screening programs the country would be better served if those efforts were put into shoring up the visa waiver program, where, Blumenthal said, vetting could be improved.
The executive order imposed a temporary ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, but a federal judge has barred enforcement of the order while the court considers a challenge brought by Washington state.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit left the judge’s ruling in place without deciding the ultimate merits of the arguments. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit cited a previous case establishing that “circumstantial evidence of intent, including … statements by decision makers, may be considered in evaluating whether a governmental action was motivated by a discriminatory purpose.”
On the campaign trail, Trump talked about a Muslim ban.
The Trump administration has argued that the ban is necessary to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country and is not discriminatory because the text of the order does not mention any particular religion.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson signaled on Sunday that he will move aggressively to obtain written documents and emails authored by administration officials that might contain evidence the order was unconstitutionally biased against Muslims or Islam. He also said he would also move to depose administration officials.
Trump has harshly criticized the federal judge in Washington for his decision and a top White House aide on Sunday accused the Ninth Circuit of a “judicial usurpation of power.”
“The president’s powers here are beyond question,” senior policy adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News Sunday.
Blumenthal said Trump is going about the process the wrong way, saying it should be “a deliberate, thoughtful approach.”
Trump has been criticized for not vetting the executive order with other executive officials and departments.
“The question of what kind of improvements can be made in the present process is a serious and important one that should prompt solutions based on consulting with communities, countries and Congress as well as national security experts that can provide real facts and expert opinion,” Blumenthal said.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has also joined 15 other Democratic attorneys general from around the United States in submitting a brief to the Ninth Circuit challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban barring travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.
“We believe that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority in issuing this executive order,” Jepsen said last week when filing the brief. “The state of Connecticut and, indeed, states across our country cannot and should not have to bear the confusion, cost and economic loss caused by this unconstitutional executive order.”
Jepsen asks the court to uphold the restraining order obtained by the Washington and Minnesota attorneys general to allow travelers from these seven countries, who already face significant vetting prior to granting access to the United States, to continue to travel on their visas while the case is litigated.
One of those in attendance at Monday’s press conference was Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“We hope that sometime soon that this administration comes to its senses,” said Dhaouadi.
Despite attempts by the Trump to describe the travel ban in other ways, Dhaouadi said the executive order Trump signed off was, in fact, “a Muslim ban.”
Dhaouadi said the ban “prevented a lot of people from coming back to the U.S., whether they were students who were coming back to here after vacation, or whether they were professionals who were going on a trip to conduct businesses who then couldn’t come back.”
“Many of them lived in the United States for years, “ Dhaouadi said, adding they were Green Card carriers. Many of them, he said, have been “serving the American public, doing a lot of great good.”
Also speaking at the press conference were Paula and Jack Robinson, from the Franciscan Center Committee for Social Justice, who are currently hosting a refugee family.
“The fact is that Muslims come to America for the same reason that we are here for – for freedom. Freedom to make a decent living. Freedom to raise their family in a safe environment. Freedom from terror,” Jack Robinson said.
“They’re no different from us.”