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Muslim group denounces latest Trump travel ban as 'un-American'

By Susan Jacobson, For Orlando Sentinel , On 27 September 2017, Read Original
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A prominent Islamic-advocacy group Tuesday denounced President Donald Trump’s latest travel restrictions, saying they are politically motivated and discriminate against Muslims just as the previous ban did.

“To slam doors and divide families based on religious beliefs is not what this country is built on,” said Debbie Soto of Organize Florida, a nonprofit that advocates for social, racial and economic justice.

Soto was one of the speakers at a news conference sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida chapter at its Orlando office.

CAIR and its allies plans to use vigils, protests, rallies and lawsuits to attack the constraints, said Rasha Mubarak, the group’s Central Florida regional director.

“Let’s call it what it is: a Muslim ban,” she said. “It’s illegal. It is unconstitutional. And quite frankly, it’s un-American.”

Trump on Sunday announced the new restrictions, which have no end date and expand the list of countries to eight: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. All except North Korea and Venezuela have Muslim-majority populations, although Chad also has a substantial proportion of Christians.

Chad also has been a key U.S. ally in counterterrorism efforts in the region, hosting military exercises and serving as a staging ground for surveillance of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump tweeted after his announcement.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, speculated at the news conference on why other Muslim-majority countries were left off the list, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from. He questioned whether Trump’s business interests in the Middle East influenced his selection.

“This travel ban makes no sense,” he said. “It is motivated by personal interest, by bigotry and by Islamophobia.”

The previous ban, which was set to expire Sunday, included Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in two cases in October on the ban’s constitutionality, but the court canceled them Monday and ordered attorneys to file briefs on whether parts of the issue have become moot.

Speakers Tuesday also denounced other Trump administration policies, including the elimination this month of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provided two years of renewable protection from deportation and eligibility for work permits for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents.

“We will stand up for everyone who is targeted by this administration’s divisive policies and we will continue to reject all attempts to divide our country and criminalize our communities,” Mubarak said.

Other participants in Tuesday’s event included Hope CommUnity Center, the Muslim Women’s Organization, Unite Here Local 737 union, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Planned Parenthood and Young Democrats of Orange County.

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