Senate Democrats push bill to rescind Trump’s travel ban

Updated March 14, 2017 - 9:55 pm

WASHINGTON — On the eve of legal hearings, Democrats in the U.S. Senate have filed legislation to rescind President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban for people entering the United States from six countries.

The executive order issued by Trump has been challenged by Hawaii and other states. Opponents there say the order suspends a refugee program and bans citizens from six Muslim countries from receiving visas to enter the United States.

Justice Department lawyers are preparing to support the executive order as one of national security — banning U.S. entry from people in countries that pose a risk for terrorism — when a hearing is scheduled Wednesday.

The order, without an injunction or legal order, goes into effect Thursday.

Democrats in the Senate, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a bill to rescind the order.

The bill has more than 35 co-sponsors, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. Cortez Masto has called the executive order “Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0,” a reference to his first executive order Jan. 27 that was suspended by a federal district judge.

The Trump administration did not appeal the suspension, and instead issued a revised executive order on March 6.

The Nevada Democrat said Trump “should have learned from his mistake the first time he made it — that his Muslim ban is immoral, illegal and un-American.”

Supporters in the Senate include Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said the executive order is a commonsense approach to reducing the risk of terrorism. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also has voiced support for the ban.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated a reluctance to bring up legislation in the upper chamber, saying the issue is likely to be decided by the courts.

The Justice Department is expected to argue in court that the revised order is aimed at preventing future terrorist attacks before they occur.

Administration officials have defended the revision, saying the order is based on a determination by Congress and the Obama administration that the six mostly Middle East countries listed in the ban were deemed a potential threat.

Iraq was included in Trump’s original order, but was removed from the second executive order.

Trump’s revised order bans travel to the U.S. for 90 days by citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It suspends the refugee program involving Syria for 120 days.

Hearings on motions contesting the constitutionality of the order are scheduled for Wednesday.

In addition to Hawaii, other states, including Washington, California, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York, have also asked for hearings to argue against the order before it takes effect.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s spokeswoman previously said that the state is evaluating the executive action on travel bans and consequences to determine whether it violates laws passed by Congress or the Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the Senate and House judiciary committees to hold oversight hearings on all of Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugees.

“These orders are ripe with civil rights violations and riddled with constitutional red flags,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU senior legislative counsel.

The ACLU has filed a suit against the travel ban that could be heard as early as Wednesday in Maryland.

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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