While a sweeping executive order signed by President Trump last Friday drew furious protests from the left and condemnation from Democratic governors and foreign leaders, American voters strongly back the move, a new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows.
Fulfilling a campaign promise to temporarily halt the entry of asylum seekers and citizens of countries identified as high-risk centers for terrorism, Trump signed the executive order suspending America’s refugee program at the end of his first full week in office until vetting procedures are in place.
Under the new directive, no asylum seekers will be permitted into the US for a period of 120 days. In addition, the order creates a general ban on refugees from Syria for an indefinite period of time. Also, all foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – including green-card holders – would be barred from entering the United States for 90 days.
The order elicited vocal protest from the left, which held demonstrations at airports across the United States.
But according to a pair of new polls released on Monday, American voters approve of the executive order.
A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters shows 57% back the temporary ban on refugees from the seven Muslim countries named by the order, while just 33% oppose the move. Similarly, 56% support the temporary entry ban for visa-holders from those same seven nations. Thirty-two percent oppose this measure.
Overwhelming majorities of self-identified Republicans and independents back the refugee ban, while most Democrats oppose it. Eighty-two percent of Republicans said they favored the ban, along with 59% of independents. Democrats were split 53% - 34% against the ban.
A second poll, conducted by Quinnipiac, also suggests Americans back the executive order, albeit by a narrower margin.
According to the Quinnipiac survey of registered voters, 48% back suspending immigration from “terror prone regions”, including refusing entry to refugees from those areas, while 42% opposed such a move.
Broken down by partisan affiliation, 72% of self-identified Republicans say they supported the ban, along with 49% of independents and 24% of Democrats. By contrast, 66% of Democrats, 42% of independents, and 17% of Republicans say they opposed the move.
Meanwhile, President Trump on Monday night fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she instructed Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending his executive order on immigration and refugees.
"The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel," said a White House statement quoted by Politico.
"Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration," the statement added.
Yates was appointed by former President Barack Obama and would have served until Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general, is confirmed.
She will be replaced with the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, Dana Boente.
In a letter to lawyers sent earlier Monday, Yates wrote, "My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts.”
"In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right," she added.
Yates' decision not to defend it came amid a flood of protests against the executive order nationwide and after four federal judges ruled against Trump's order, staying its impact on people who were detained at U.S. airports over the weekend.
On Sunday, 16 Democratic state attorneys general blasted the executive order, vowing to fight it and calling his demands “unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful.”
Yates wrote in her letter, according to CNN, "At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”
White House policy director Stephen Miller, who helped craft the executive order, called Yates' decision "a further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become."
"It's sad that our politics have become so politicized, that you have people refusing to enforce our laws," Miller said Monday night on MSNBC.
Trump clarified on Sunday that the executive order is about security and is not a Muslim ban.
"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those feeling oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border," he said, adding, "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.”
In a related development , it was reported that the state of Washington will challenge President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigration from some Muslim-majority states in federal court, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said on Monday, according to Reuters.
In doing so, Washington will be the first state to take on the executive order that went into effect on Friday.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said it was important for the Trump administration to face lawsuits from the state itself, and not just cases filed by individuals who have been impacted by the order.
"It is an insult and a danger to all of the people of the state of Washington, of all faiths," Inslee was quoted by Reuters as having told reporters on Monday.
The executive order has been met with outrage among Americans who have taken to the streets to protest it.
Meanwhile on Monday, former President Barack Obama joined in the criticism of Trump, saying he supports the demonstrations which have broken out around the country against the presidential order and adding that "American values are in danger."
Jewish organizations also weighed in with their opinions and perspective on Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration from seven Muslim countries. In a statement sent to the media via e-mail, the Agudath Israel said: “The immense contributions of immigrants to American life need no elaboration, nor does the importance of immigration to our great nation. The world refugee crisis, moreover, must compel our deep concern for those fleeing persecution, as did so many of our own forebears. President Trump's recent executive order seeks to protect the nation's citizens from terrorism, an unarguably honorable quest.”
Adding a note of caution, the Orthodox organization said, “We urge the administration to continue to evaluate the geopolitical situation and exercise great deliberation as it forges a permanent immigration policy, so that what results will well balance security concerns with human and religious rights.”
The Rabbinical Council of America (the nation’s leading Orthodox rabbinic organization in North America) and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization), reaffirmed the position that they took on this issue in December of 2015. In a written statement to the media on Monday, they said: "We call on all Americans to reaffirm that discrimination against any group based solely upon religion is wrong and anathema to the great traditions of religious and personal freedoms upon which this country was founded."
They added that, "we recognize that the complex issues that face us in ensuring the safety and security from terror of innocents and free societies throughout the world need to be addressed, but need to be done in sober and responsible ways. We call upon....the United States government to recognize the threats posed by radical Islamists, while preserving and protecting the rights of all people who seek peace, no matter how they worship God."
The leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement: “We call on President Trump to rescind this abhorrent executive order. Every member of Congress must denounce its provisions, including the imposition of a religious test for entry, and urge its immediate repeal. Every American citizen must take every possible action to oppose this violation of America's greatness.”
They added, “In the days, weeks and years that follow, we will work with our clergy, lay leaders, institutions and congregations to provide assistance and support to immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and others yearning for the refuge and opportunity for a better life that we know the United States, at its best, can provide.”
By: David Rosenberg