Reaction to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban appeared to fall mainly along partisan lines Monday, with Democrats suggesting the new order still raises legal questions and Republicans saying stepped-up vetting will help national security.
Trump signed the new order Monday weeks after his intial ban was put on hold by a federal judge in Washington state in a ruling that was later upheld by an appeals court. It would bar new visas being issued to travellers from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya for 90 days.
"Following a series of defeats in court for his first un-American Muslim ban, President Trump is attempting to revise his unconstitutional policy," Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat said in a statement. "But the American people should not be fooled by the president's second attempt: His policy still bans immigrants only from Muslim-majority countries, it still cruelly blocks refugees, it is still un-American, and it still will harm American national security interests more than help them."
The new ban does not apply to those who already have valid visas or people with U.S. green cards. It would suspend the natinon's refugee program for 120 days, but would allow refugees already cleared by the State Department to enter the country.
"I applaud President Trump for doing everything he can to assure that immigrants from countries which are either state sponsors of terrorism, or where ISIS has significant presence, will be properly vetted before entry," said Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Baltimore County. "This temporary pause in immigration from those six countries was long overdue [and will give] our law enforcement and Homeland Security officials adequate time to work to develop vetting measures that will protect us from terrorist infiltrators."
Bill O'Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy for the Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, focused on another provision of the order that would limit the number of refugees the U.S. will accept annually. The number would be capped at 50,000 in the fiscal year that ends this fall.
In response to the Syrian refugee crises, President Barack Obama had lifted that annual cap to 110,000 last year.
"This is a ban not with words but with numbers," O'Keefe said in a statement. "The fact is that the United States should be admitting more immigrants and refugees, not fewer. We need at least to return to the previous limit of 110,000."
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer described the revised order as the "new Muslim ban." Trump officials have said the ban applies to countries with ties to terrorism or failed states that are unable to stop it.
"The executive order signed today doubles down on a radical policy that will weaken our national security and put all Americans in danger," the Southern Maryland lawmaker said in a statement. "This ban is not only unconstitutional and immoral but also ill-conceived. It will embolden our enemies, providing a powerful recruiting tool for ISIS to radicalize those already here legally and deter our Muslim allies from working with us to defeat terrorist groups."
Other reaction from Maryland lawmakers:
Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the new order is just as legally objectionable and morally reprehensible as the original.
"There is a real threat that this nation faces from terrorism, and our policy efforts must address that threat," he said. "This order does not do that. Instead, it makes us less safe, damages our moral leadership, and strengthens the hand of those who would do us harm either through recruitment or self-radicalization."