Maine’s congressional delegation split over President Trump’s new travel ban, with two members saying it would harm families and national security, while the state’s two Republican lawmakers said the revised ban would strengthen border security and represents an improvement over the previous version.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and immigrants living in the state opposed the new executive order that restricts entry into the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.

Sen. Angus King, an independent, said the president’s first travel ban was a “serious policy mistake” and that the revised ban only serves to strengthen the cause of terrorist groups seeking to create a divide between Americans and Muslim countries.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, slammed the president, calling the ban “inhumane.”

Maine’s congressional Republicans said the new ban improved on the original order.

Sen. Susan Collins said the new travel order addressed some of the concerns she had with the original ban.

“For example, the new order now exempts green card and visa holders, permits Iraqi translators and others who assisted our military to enter our country on special immigration visas, and eliminates the ill-conceived religious test that was included in the previous executive order,” Collins said in a statement.

However, Collins said she intends to take her time to further analyze its impact.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, said it will help strengthen the nation’s border security.

“I am pleased to see there is a system in place to deal with case-by-case waivers so there is a process allowing those to enter who should pose no threat,” he said in a statement.

Iraq is not included in the revised travel ban, but it still affects refugees from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen who are trying to enter the United States.

“President Trump’s original travel ban was a serious policy mistake and legally questionable and that he needed to issue a new, revised ban only underscores that fact,” King said in a statement Monday.

King serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and said that Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and other extremist groups are trying to create a divide between America and the Muslim world that will drive Muslims toward violence and terrorism.

King said both versions of the travel ban “continue to risk playing into that strategy, which I believe will result in the weakening of our national security, not the strengthening of it, as the president intended.”

Pingree called the president’s new order “deeply unsettling” and lacking “rationale.” In her statement to the media, Pingree said the revised travel ban will make “America less safe.”

“Over the weekend, we saw on Twitter how little President Trump relies on evidence to inform his snap decisions as commander in chief,” Pingree said. “His revised executive order banning refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority nations is another case of irrational judgment. Given that there are no Trump hotels in the six Muslim-majority nations affected by this order, it is troubling that he would sign an order that will impact thousands of lives, but not his bottom line.”

Poliquin, who has supported efforts to increase border security, said the new order should help secure the country’s borders. He said the new order appears to be the result of Trump working with national security agencies, the State Department and the Justice Department to craft a travel ban that will withstand a court challenge.

“As a nation of immigrants, we must always uphold our core American values of inclusion through legal and secure immigration processes,” Poliquin said in his statement.

The Maine Chapter of the ACLU opposes the travel ban and promised to continue to fight its legality in court.

“Freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution, and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of how they look or how they choose to pray,” Alison Beyea, the executive director of the ACLU of Maine, said in a statement. “This revised order is unconstitutional, and we will continue to challenge it in court.”

Maine has 12,500 African immigrants, including refugees from Somalia and Sudan, according to the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. Many of those refugees fled war or genocide in their home countries. Many waited years, and in some cases decades, to be resettled.

“It hurts my heart for the country that I love to reject me and my family with this Muslim ban, which will keep others from Somalia from finding opportunity in America,” said Fatuma Hussein, executive director of the Immigrant Resource Center.

Hussein came to the United States in 1993. Her daughters now attend Georgetown University and Swarthmore College.

“We are proud of the contributions we make to our communities, and it pains us to be targeted for discrimination in this way,” said Abdi Ahmen, a Lewiston resident who came to the United States after fleeing war in Somalia more than 20 years ago.

Ahmen is a business owner and pharmacist whose family members include teachers and business leaders.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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