VOL. 132 | NO. 22 | Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Cohen Co-Sponsors Bill to Stop Trump Immigration Order
By Bill Dries
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is among the House sponsors of a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to enforce President Donald Trump’s order barring refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
Cohen, a Democrat, is among the members of the House Judiciary Committee co-sponsoring the bill. He is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
“We do not have religious tests in this country,” Cohen said in a written statement issued Monday, Jan. 30, from his Washington office. “That is a clear violation of the First Amendment. When we start detaining foreign nationals who have risked their lives to assist our military, we are making our troops abroad and our nation less safe.”
He called Trump’s order “hasty and unsound” and said it would provide the terrorist organization ISIS “additional propaganda to use against the United States.”
“Everyone agrees that we should screen refugees to ensure that no one intent on doing harm is allowed into our country,” Cohen added. “That’s why it currently takes up to two years for applicants to be fully screened, and I support this screening process.”
Meanwhile. Republican U.S Rep. David Kustoff, also of Shelby County, said the federal government’s “No. 1 priority should be to protect the American people.”
“I believe President Trump is putting American safety first, and I will encourage a long-term plan that is consistent with the values and compassion on which our great nation was founded,” Kustoff said in a written statement from Washington.
State Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis says she believes in the need to protect the safety of American citizens, but she says the ban on immigrant travel from the seven countries is "overreaching."
The Memphis Democrat, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in favor of Hillary Clinton, also says "it's probably illegal" to detain people who hold green cards.
"The travel ban endangers the standing of the United States across the world," Akbari says. "It makes us look intolerant."
Implementation of the travel ban was "awful," antithetical of American values and comes across as discrimination based on religious and national origin, she adds.
Akbari, whose father is an Iranian immigrant, further notes the ban singles out nations such Iran, Iraq and Syria but doesn't include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and United Arab Emirates where most of terrorists involved in terrorist attacks aimed at the U.S. and Americans have come from.
Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said the vetting process in Trump’s order “needs more vetting.”
“More scrutiny of those traveling from war-torn countries to the United States is wise,” he added in a written statement. “But this broad and confusing order seems to ban legal, permanent residents with ‘green cards,’ and might turn away Iraqis, for example, who were translators and helped save lives of Americans troops and who could be killed if they stay in Iraq. And while not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one, which is inconsistent with our American character.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, also a Republican, said the order was “poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders.”
“The administration should immediately make appropriate revisions, and it is my hope that following a thorough review and implementation of security enhancements that many of these programs will be improved and reinstated,” Corker said in written statement.