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Sen. Durbin Slams Travel Ban As 'Un-American'

By Sam Cholke | January 30, 2017 12:41pm
 U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakoswky called President Trump's refugee ban un-American and called for protests to continue.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakoswky called President Trump's refugee ban un-American and called for protests to continue.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

GRAND BOULEVARD — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky slammed President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees from seven majority Muslim countries as “un-American” at the Urban League Monday.

Durbin cheered on protests as O’Hare International Airport and airports across the country and said Trump’s statements that Christian refugees would be prioritized over people of other religions flies in the face of who we are as Americans.

“To make religion a standard for accepting people to this country is totally inconsistent with our Constitution,” Durbin said. “When you take seven countries that are overwhelmingly Muslim populations and you add to it a statement from President Trump that we’ve got to show favoritism to bringing in Christians, he has injected religion into this. That is unfortunate and un-American.”

Trump on Friday told the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christians would be prioritized because they had suffered “more” than others, “so we are going to help them.”

On Monday, he tried to escape the “Muslim ban” label in a statement released by the White House.

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” Trump said in the statement.

Trump’s order, signed Friday, suspends all refugee resettlement in the United States for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks travel into the United States for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

The suddenness of the order left federal agencies scrambling to figure out how to enforce it. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security initially said it would stop green card holders from those seven countries from re-entering the United States, but has since partially eased that restriction.

Durbin said Trump’s executive order has caused chaos and does nothing to protect Americans, because no Syrian refugee has ever involved in an act of terrorism in the United States.

“After 24 hours they started rewriting the orders because it was just chaos, it was a disaster,” Durbin said. “So what was he thinking to issue these orders without working with the agencies to make sure they were handled fairly and effectively in a just way?”

Durbin cheered a court order that tries to halt the executive order and said the Senate should call on the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate how the order was implemented.

Schakowsky said she was at O’Hare over the weekend for the protests and was concerned the court-ordered stay was not being enforced.

“It was hard to tell, even being at the airport last night, if that’s really happening,” Schakowsky said. “I think the legal community is questioning whether a Muslim ban, which this seems to add up to, is constitutional.”

She said she planned to go to a protest on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court tonight in Washington, D.C., with other Democratic Congressional leaders. She said people should continue to protest because it has forced the administration to back off in the past.

“People on the streets and at the airports and in their churches and community centers and places like this at the Urban League are showing their power,” Schakowsky said. “Americans are not happy with what’s going on.”

She said she’s seen people of all political affiliations become increasingly concerned about the direction of the administration's actions. She said she is worried the move is hurting the United State’s relationships with its allies.

“Now, intelligence and security people are saying that our relationship with our Muslim allies around the world has been so damaged that it is actually a security problem for the United States of America,” Schakowsky said. “So we are dealing with not only the immorality of the United States of America, a country of immigrants.”

Reports from O’Hare revealed a chaotic situation over the weekend, with volunteer lawyers unsure how many people were being detained or whether they had access to legal representation.

Estimates for the number of people detained ranged from two to 50 at O'Hare.