Mar 6, 2017 2:59 PM
MANCHESTER – Sitting with Iraqi immigrant who owns an ethnic food market in New Hampshire’s largest city, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen took aim President Donald Trump as he re-issued an altered travel ban executive order.
As Shaheen was meeting with Tamam Mohamad, the owner of Spice Center in Manchester who went back to his native Iraq to work alongside U.S. troops as an interpreter, the President quietly signed a new executive order that bans for 90 days visas from citizens of six Muslim majority countries and stop refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days.
The six countries are: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq, which was included in the first executive order, was left off the new action. The new order also exempts existing visa holders from travel limits. The changes were made in hopes of helping the new order avoid the fate of the first action, which was blocked by a series of federal court rulings.
Trump privately signed the new order Monday while three top cabinet officials, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally, publicly unveiled the new edict. The low-key rollout was a contrast to the first version of the order, signed in a high-profile ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes as Defense Secretary James Mattis stood by Trump's side.
Sessions vowed the Justice Department will vigorously defend the new executive action.
"The Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority," Sessions said.
Shaheen: Trump action sends ‘chilling message’
At the same time the President was signing the order, Shaheen was meeting with Mohamad.
“This kind of executive order is not consistent with the values of this country, where we’ve always welcomed immigrants. They’ve contributed so much to this country,” Shaheen told reporters as she sat next to Mohamad at a table at the front of his market. “I think to deny access to people just because they happen to be from another country or a certain religion is un-American.”
The Democratic senator also pointed that that she’s “sponsoring legislation along with a number of other people in Congress to try and reverse the past executive order. I will see what’s in this one and see whether the courts think it withstands the legal test. But I think it’s very disappointing to the chilling message it sends to people like Tamam and his relatives about coming to America.”
And the Granite State’s senior U.S. senator pointed out that “In New Hampshire we benefit from the tourism industry. I’ve talked to a number of people in the tourism here industry who say they’ve already seen a decline in inquiries because people are concerned about coming to the United States.”
“This is not good for America and this is not good for our economy and I hope that we would see a change,” Shaheen added.
Asked about his native Iraq being exempt from the new travel ban, Mohamad said that “this is much bigger than Iraq. The idea itself, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not right. It’s not about Iraq, Syria or any of the other countries.”
Asked by NH1 News what he would say if he was able to talk with Trump, Mohamad answered “please Mr. President, reconsider your order. I don’t think it’s the right thing for country, for the reputation of the United States.”
Shaheen argued that there’s “no evidence, there’s no data, to show there’s a reason why we should be banning people from these countries. So I think that we have a very good vetting process here. Sure we could make it better, but the fact is I don’t think this executive order was about vetting refugees. I think this executive order was about promises Donald Trump made to the base of his party and that’s not a good enough reason to ban people who want to come to this country and have very good reason for being admitted to the United States.”
The senator admitted she’s not optimistic about her bill passing through the GOP controlled Congress.
“Not at this point,” she told reporters. “But I think it’s important to take a clear stand and make a statement that this is not something that I support, it’s not something that many of us in Congress support.”
Shaheen also released a statement heavily criticizing the President's new executive action, as did Sen. Maggie Hassan, and Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, the three other members of New Hampshire's all Democratic, all female congressional delegation.
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