Hawaii's Congressional delegation condemns Trump travel ban

Local lawmakers react to President's travel ban
Published: Jan. 30, 2017 at 4:07 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2017 at 9:48 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Congressional leaders, lawmakers and others are speaking out against President Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.

But the Hawaii Republican Party's chairman defended the president's actions, saying they're aimed at keeping Americans safe.

The statements came in the wake of a chaotic weekend, in which Trump's order spurred protests in multiple cities, including Honolulu.

The demonstrations continued Monday in Washington, D.C. including with an opposition rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday afternoon.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with refugees and immigrants, called on Trump to reverse the executive order, which Schatz has described as "hateful."

"The world is watching. History is watching. And we have to ask ourselves -- what do they see?" asked Schatz, speaking on the Senate floor Monday. "We can fix this. Today, I call on every member of the U.S. Senate to stand against this ban and fight chaos and paranoia as official government policy."

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, also attended Monday's rally in Washington, D.C.

"It's almost a double whammy. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act and with this immigration issue, we have doctors who are being affected primarily coming into the East Coast," she said.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, have also come out against the order.

"Whenever a group targets a group like Japanese or Muslims, history shows that we have been wrong. Wrong. Wrong," said Hirono, at the rally.

Meanwhile, state Attorney General Doug Chin has condemned the immigration ban, calling it unconstitutional and unlawful, and is challenging Trump's claims it will make America safer by keeping radical Islamic terrorists out of the U.S.

"Most of the terrorists, if not all the people who have terrorist ties, actually come from countries that have not been banned," he said.

"There is nothing that this group of nations has in common other than the fact that they are Muslim-majority nations to which Trump doesn't own any buildings or hotels. I think that's a really serious concern that we should all be looking at."

On Sunday, about 100 people gathered outside the international terminal at the Honolulu International Airport to hold signs against the Trump order.

Their signs read: "Refugees welcome here" and "No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!"

Hawaii's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't believe anyone was detained in Hawaii.

However, the group's director says the president's executive orders are concerning. The group is urging anyone who may have been targeted by the new policy to reach out to the ACLU.

Also Sunday, Gov. David Ige issued a statement on the Trump order, which said in part: "Hawaii has a proud history as a place immigrants of diverse backgrounds can achieve their dreams through hard work.

"Many of our people also know all too well the consequences of giving in to fear of newcomers. The remains of the internment camp at Honouliuli are a sad testament to that fear. We must remain true to our values and be vigilant where we see the worst part of history about to be repeated."

Trump says his "extreme vetting" system will help "keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the U.S."

Top Trump aides compared the order to a 2011 policy on Iraqi refugees, when President Barack Obama imposed additional checks on Iraqi refugees after two Iraqis were charged with terrorism offenses in Kentucky.

Unlike Trump's order, the Obama policy applied only to Iraqi refugees and never specifically prohibited entry.

In an interview with Hawaii News Now, Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Fritz Rohlfing defended Trump's new policy, and said it doesn't target Muslims. He reiterated the president's stance that it will keep America safer by preventing entry to individuals who wish to do the United States harm.

"These are countries that have terrorist risks that can come from these countries," he said. "f the fact is that these are majority Muslim countries, then that just happens to be the reality that we are facing."

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