State attorneys general, tech industry, religious groups, others decry travel ban

UPDATE 3 — 1/31, 4:25 p.m. EST: A memo circulated Monday and Tuesday at the State Dept. expressing disapproval of President Trump’s immigration order has been endorsed by approximately 900 bureaucrats, according to a Reuters source. 

White House Press Sec. Sean Spicer said Monday that department officials should “get with the program or they can go.”

 

UPDATE 2 — 7:41 p.m. EST: Over 100 former Clinton, Bush and Obama administration officials signed their name to a letter addressed Monday to State, Justice and Homeland security department heads, expressing “deep concern” with President Trump’s immigration and refugee directive.

Signatories include former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, CIA Director Michael Hayden, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Specifically, the letter said the “blanket ban” is “counterproductive from a security standpoint, and beneath the dignity of our great nation,” and asks the addressed to convince Trump to “revisit and rescind” the order.

 

UPDATE — 3:52 p.m. EST: A spokesman for Barack Obama said Monday that the former president is encouraged by public protests following Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigrants from a handful of Muslim-majority countries and “fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

Resistance to the travel ban also came from active officials, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to offer legislation to end the policy and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his state will sue the Trump administration over the directive.

 

Following President Trump’s executive order Friday which temporarily bans the entry of immigrants and refugees from a handful of Muslim-majority countries, a plethora of political, business and religious groups and leaders expressed their disapproval.

Perhaps most significantly, 15 attorneys general issued a joint statement Sunday calling Trump’s DHS directive “unconstitutional” and “un-American” and vowed to use their legal authority to “ensure that as few people as possible suffer the chaotic situation (the ban) has created.”

States represented in the decree include California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington state, New Mexico and the District of Columbia.

The technology industry was also vocal over the weekend, as the heads of Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, eBay and Tesla, all expressed concern.  An internal memo by CEO Tim Cook to Apple employees explicitly condemned the move, saying “it is not a policy we support.”

“We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company,” Cook continued.

A Google memo, the content of which was reported to AP, advised the company’s 190 or so employees effected by the new policy to cancel any international travel plans.  A statement by the Silicon Valley tech giant said they’re concerned how the order “could create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.”

Further south, the Koch political network held a weekend donor meeting in Indian Wells, Calif., where the conference’s co-chair and Charles Koch Foundation president, Brian Hicks, issued a statement which also blasted Trump’s ban.

“The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive,” it read. “Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”

In attendance at the retreat among many other congressional Republicans was House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who when reached for comment said vetting refugees “from certain countries is needed,” but also acknowledged that U.S. legal residents are in “a different category.”

“People that have a green card supposedly have been vetted,” he continued. “So there needs to be some further clarification.”

In 2016, Charles Koch called Trump’s proposed proposed Muslim ban, “antithetical to our approach,” and said the registry idea was “reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”

Rounding out the weekend’s most prominent critics were various religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which runs the country’s largest resettlement program for refugees; the Orthodox Union, America’s largest association of Orthodox Jewish synagogues; and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Two evangelical ministers who campaigned for Donald Trump’s election, Rev. Franklin Graham of North Carolina and Rev. Robert Jeffress of Texas, both publicly supported the president’s order.

One other critical voice worth noting was that of the NBA’s Steve Kerr whose father was killed by two Islamist radicals in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1984, whiling serving as president of an independent university there.

“If we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it’s the wrong way of going about it,” Kerr said Sunday. “If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror.”

On late Saturday and Sunday, federal judges in four states ruled that immigrants and refugees traveling to America while Trump’s order was issued would be allowed to remain in the country after hundreds with valid visas or green cards were detained at U.S. airports.

 

[Reuters] [The Hill] [AP] [Washington Post] [The Guardian] [Politico] [Photo courtesy John Angelillo/UPI]