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Trump’s revised travel ban still inspires protests in Chicago

Hatem Abudayyeh, director of the Arab-American Action Network, speaks at the protest

Hatem Abudayyeh, director of the Arab-American Action Network, speaks at the protest outside the office of Immigration and Custom Enforcement, 101 W. Congress Pkwy. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

Chicago’s immigrant and refugee advocacy groups began mobilizing Monday against President Donald Trump’s revised order prohibiting travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. A protest planned for Tuesday is expected to draw 1,000 people.

“It’s still a ban on Muslims. You can dress it up however you want, but we’re very clear that singling out these Muslim countries is still a ban,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said at a protest at the downtown headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“It’s un-American, and we’re going to continue to fight. We won the first round, and we’re ready for the second,” Benito said.

On Monday, Trump signed a new version of his controversial travel ban, aiming to withstand court challenges while still barring new travel visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, and shutting down the U.S. refugee program, the Associated Press reported. The revised travel order leaves Iraq off the list of banned countries but still affects would-be visitors from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.

The revised order is narrower and specifies that a 90-day ban on people from the six countries does not apply to those who already have valid visas or people with U.S. green cards.

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Groups representing communities from Arab to Korean, and legal assistance organizations, converged on the ICE offices with banners and posters, protesting an executive order they described as “Muslim Ban 2.0.”

“As Korean-American immigrants, many of us came here escaping countries where we had military dictatorships,” said Inhe Choi, director of the Hana Center. “We all have to wake up. We have to fight not only against this ban, but against these other executive orders that he has passed. We have to fight to hold him accountable as much as possible.”

At the offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, organizers responded to the order by bringing all of the travel assistance that has been loosely provided by lawyers and others at O’Hare Airport since the first order under one umbrella.

Under the new Travel Assistance Project, tapus.org, travelers affected by this new order will be able to seek real-time legal assistance and have lawyers and interpreters waiting at the airport to handle individual cases, whether they are the affected traveler or a loved one meeting them.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for ACLU-Illinois, spoke at the offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

“This ban is being justified on the basis of national security, and the problem is that the Department of Justice Intelligence Unit has said that these people from these countries don’t pose any threat to the United States,” Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for ACLU-Illinois, said at CAIR.

“There is an attempt to cosmetically change things, by having a grace period, by allowing in everybody who has a valid visa, so that all of the affected people are outside of the United States. Then they’ll claim that nobody has standing to bring the challenge. But it will be challenged, and it will be overturned,” Yohnka said.

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, protesting at ICE, charged Trump’s immigration policies “are simply measures to keep minorities divided in our country, and to create scapegoats,” condemning recent Trump directives that will deport more undocumented immigrants.

“The new executive order issued by President Trump doubles down on the rhetoric of the [presidential] campaign. It singles out Muslims, and reduces by more than 50 percent the number of refugees that will be accepted into our country, over what had been established previously,” Garcia said. “And the actions taken last week single out Mexicans under the guises of criminality, thus creating the type of fear and hysteria that exists today in that community.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement calling the revised ban “nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing — different packaging intended to achieve the same result. It is a betrayal of our nation’s values that our government would slam the door on refugees fleeing war, death and unimaginable conditions, that our government would divide families, and that our government would attempt to exclude people based on their religion.”

Tuesday’s protest is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the downtown Federal Building.

“I think it’s important to note that the reason we’re here for Muslim Ban 2.0 is because we defeated the first one,” Hatem Abudayyeh, director of the Arab-American Action Network, said at ICE. “It was the people in the streets. It was the people at the airports across the country that defeated that. And we are out here today to pledge that we will continue to be out in the streets. We will continue to protest. And we will defeat this one as well.”