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US Court to Hear Arguments on New Travel Ban


FILE - Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, speaks at a news conference opposing President Trump's executive orders on immigration, Feb. 1, 2017.

A court in the United States has ordered a hearing next week on President Donald Trump’s new executive order on immigration.

The order suspends the country’s refugee admissions program and bars entry to people from six countries. In all six, most of the population is Muslim.

Officials in Hawaii have disputed the legality of the order, which is to take effect on March 16th. The court will hear arguments in the case March 15th.

The executive order blocks the approval of new U.S. visas to citizens of Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. The travel ban will be in effect for 90 days.

The order also bars refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. Trump says the measure is necessary to protect national security. He has dismissed critics who say it targets Muslims.

U.S. federal courts suspended enforcement of an earlier version of the executive order.

The top law enforcement official in Hawaii said on Monday that the new order is just a new version of a Muslim ban.

State attorney general Doug Chin said “under the pretense of national security, it still targets immigrants and refugees.”

The executive order says the government must improve its investigation of those who seek to enter the United States. It says the six countries named in the order have a compromised ability to provide the necessary information to ensure people entering the U.S. are not a threat.

Iraq was included in the first executive order, but was removed after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his office was in contact with the Iraqi government. He said they were working to improve the system for investigating the security risk of Iraqi citizens.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ahmed Jamal told the Associated Press that removing his country from the order will improve cooperation in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Mohamed Naji works for the Sudan Tribune news website in Paris. He said officials in Sudan are “furious” about the order because they were “involved in a process that was supposed to lead to all U.S. sanctions being lifted.”

Naji said that process began during the presidency of George W. Bush. He said Sudan “is wondering if there has been a setback in the process, especially given that President Trump’s executive order lists Sudan among states sponsoring terrorism.”

In the United States, several congressional leaders have expressed support for the new executive order. Trump’s Republican Party controls both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But most Democratic Party lawmakers and human rights organizations oppose the measure. Some critics called it “racist and anti-Islamic.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the order helps to support “our shared goal” of protecting the United States. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he believes the new order will not be considered as a religious ban and will not be blocked by the courts. Reports say the new order was written to deal with the concerns of the federal judges who blocked the first order.

Graham said he believed the new order to be “a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states.”

Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders expressed sharp disagreement with Republican supporters of the ban. He said the order targets Muslims in “an attempt to divide us up. This isn’t about keeping America safe. A president who respected our traditions of religious freedom would not have resorted to hateful, anti-Islamic rhetoric to justify [the] ban.”

The International Rescue Committee provides humanitarian aid to 40 countries and has helped resettle refugees in 28 U.S. cities. It said the new order is a threat to the 60,000 refugees who have already been investigated, but are still in crisis areas.

The IRC said the American resettlement program is considered “the world’s most successful and secure.” It said there has not been a deadly terrorist attack by a refugee in the U.S. since the resettlement program began in 1980.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

VOA’s Chris Hannas, Lou Lorscheider, James Butty and Timothee Donangmaye reported this story from Washington. John Smith adapted their reporting into VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

executive order – n. an order that comes from the U.S. President or a government agency and must be obeyed like a law

pretense – n. a false reason or explanation that is used to hide the real purpose of something

furious – adj. very angry

sanction – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country

setback – n. a problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely

resort to – phrasal verb to do or use (something) especially because no other choices are possible

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