World

Four states fighting Trump's executive orders

NEW YORK: Less than a third of Americans polled believe that imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries would make them "more safe".

President Donald Trump said the move would help protect the US from terrorism. His executive order blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and placed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

The poll, released yesterday, was conducted online in English in all 50 states. It gathered responses from 1,201 people, including 453 Democrats and 478 Republicans.

Some 31 per cent of people said the ban made them feel "more safe", while 26 per cent said it made them feel "less safe". Another 33 per cent said it would not make any difference and the rest said they did not know.

The Jan 30-31 poll showed roughly one in two Americans backed the ban, which also suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days, although there were sharp divisions along party lines.

About 49 per cent of Americans agreed with the order and 41 per cent disagreed. Some 53 per cent of Democrats said they "strongly disagreed" with Mr Trump's action, while 51 per cent of Republicans said they "strongly agreed".

Democrats were more than three times as likely as Republicans to say that the "US should continue to take in immigrants and refugees". Republicans were more than three times as likely as Democrats to agree that "banning people from Muslim countries is necessary to prevent terrorism".

Ms Cheryl Hoffman, 46, of Sumerduck, Virginia, said she was thrilled that Mr Trump had ordered the ban.

"I understand that the country was founded on immigrants," said Ms Hoffman, who participated in the poll. "But I'm worried that refugees are coming in and being supported by my tax dollars."

OTHER BETTER WAYS

Another poll respondent, Ms Veronica Buetel, 57, of Green, Ohio, felt the opposite: "Yes, we do live in scary times, but there are other better ways to root out terrorism."

Dr Westy Egmont, director of the Immigrant Integration Lab at Boston College, said Americans have grown increasingly hostile towards refugees and immigrants as the influx has shifted from Eastern Europe to countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.

"The rise of those numbers, as relatively small as they are, have gathered just enough attention to set off a small reaction from people who are genuinely uncomfortable with the diversity around them," Dr Egmont said.

Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington states have joined the legal battle against the travel ban, which the White House deems necessary to improve national security.

The challenges contend that the order violated the US Constitution's guarantees of religious freedom.

Massachusetts contended the restrictions run afoul of the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits religious preference.

"At bottom, what this is about is a violation of the Constitution," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said. "It discriminates against people because of their religion, it discriminates against people because of their country of origin," Ms Healey said at a Boston press conference.

She was flanked by leaders from the tech, healthcare and education sectors, who said that the order could limit their ability to attract and retain highly-educated workers.

The attorneys general of New York and Virginia said their states were joining similar lawsuits filed in their respective federal courts.

"As we speak, there are students at our colleges and universities who are unable to return to Virginia," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring told reporters. "This is not an action I take lightly, but it is one I take with confidence in our legal analysis." - REUTERS

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