Trump’s travel ban’s revised — but lawmakers still want to stop NJ airports from helping with it
President Donald Trump issued a revised travel ban Monday, excluding from the suspension groups of foreigners that got the original January order blocked in the courts. Meanwhile in Trenton, lawmakers picked up their fight against the concept.
Democratic state lawmakers, in New Jersey as well as New York, want to forbid the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from using its resources to help enforce the travel ban at its airports, which include Newark Liberty and Atlantic City.
The New Jersey bill, A-4589/S-3006, is now one step from Gov. Chris Christie’s desk – and a likely veto, given that Republican lawmakers have been siding with Trump on the issue and Gov. Chris Christie has said he’d be “a willing partner” on immigration and that the issue with the initial ban was its implementation.
Democrats say the issues go beyond that, to the conception of Trump’s proposal itself.
“If the Trump administration is intent on pursuing this misguided policy, it’s going to have to be up to them, not us, to enforce it,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, a co-sponsor of the bill and chairman of the transportation committee that advanced it Monday.
Gubernatorial campaign politics were evident in the debate around the bill. Wisniewski is seeking the Democratic nomination, and his campaign described the bill as part of his “resistance agenda.”
The sole person to testify on the bill Monday was Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, one of five Republicans running for governor. Rogers – a retired Navy intelligence officers and former member of the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force – said the proposal would hinder police.
“I’m sure none of us, none of us here today, want New Jersey to be the place where someone started their journey in our country to unleash hell on our nation because of this bill,” Rogers said.
Rogers said the state Department of Homeland Security’s threat assessment for 2017 notes five individuals who resided in New Jersey have been arrested since 2015 for providing material support to ISIS or plotting to conduct an attack.
He said personally identifiable information about roughly 500 New Jersey residents, including 55 NJ Transit police officers, have been released on “kill lists” released by pro-ISIS groups, which he called “rather chilling.”
“This bill’s going to make America less safe, and it could lead to blood being spilled on our shores,” Rogers said.
Wisniewski says Rogers’ reference to 9/11 in his remarks underscores the folly of Trump’s order, as those terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, which isn’t included in the travel ban.
The ban now covers travel from seven countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order no longer includes Iraq. It takes effect March 16, rather than immediately, and includes other new exceptions for legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals and refugees.
Trump’s revised order actually revokes the Jan. 27 order. Given that the bill moving through the Legislature specifically references the date of the original order, it’s not clear what effect it would actually have even if it became law, unless it’s amended.
Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, D-Hudson, said security is paramount to lawmakers; her son is a retired Marine and now works at the National Security Agency. But she said officials shouldn’t “hide behind our ‘safety of our country’” to justify a wide-ranging, ineffective travel ban.
“We just want to make sure that it’s not a smokescreen to just grab anybody off the airplanes and just be able to remove them just because of where they’re coming from,” Chaparro said.
Many of the Democrats who represent New Jersey in Congress reiterated their opposition to Trump’s order even after the revisions.
“A rebranded Muslim ban is still a Muslim ban, plain and simple,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.
"After a federal judge unequivocally halted President Trump’s first ban on Muslims and refugees, it is preposterous to see a recalcitrant White House willing to take yet another gamble to put fringe politics ahead of our national security and our Constitution," said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
“President Trump's new travel ban is a distinction without much of a difference,” said U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross.
“This new order has the same underlying goal: to prevent Muslim refugees and immigrants from entering the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.
“Making small tweaks and smoothing out the rough edges of President Trump’s initial executive order doesn’t change the fact that it is still a ban,” said Rep. Albio Sires.
“President Trump’s first attempt to ban Muslims and refugees was a huge failure. The American people rejected that ban, and I’m certain that they will reject this one, too,” said Rep. Donald Payne Jr.