SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi took to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to lead a protest against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees and citizens from Muslim nations from entering the United States.
Later on Monday, U.S. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the U. S. Department of Justice not to defend Trump’s executive order.
Prior to Yates’ statement, Pelosi urged the President to withdraw the executive order.
In a statement on Sunday, Pelosi wrote, “The President’s action is not only unconstitutional but immoral.”
Along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and other members of Congress, Pelosi demanded that a recently issued federal court injunction against the travel ban be honored.
At the protest on Monday night, Pelosi was surrounded by protesters who held signs that read, “Refugees Welcome” and “Islamophobia is unAmerican.”
Pelosi expressed her belief that “the strength of our country is found in our diversity.”
Schumer expressed concern that “our soldiers will have less allies” in Muslim countries under this executive order. He said that the order would ultimately make American soldiers and the American public less safe as it “will encourage lone wolves” to act against America.
Many critics of the order say it will make America look like it is waging a war against Islam, especially because none of the major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil were determined to have been conducted by people from the banned countries.
The Washington Post reported that companies where Trump does business, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates have not been hit by the new travel restrictions.
On Sunday, Trump posted to Facebook a statement regarding the executive order, stating:
“This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also challenging the order.
On Monday, Feinstein introduced a bill to repeal the order.
Feinstein introduced a bill Monday to repeal Trump’s executive order, saying “it prohibits individuals from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Lybia and Yemen from entering the country. It even bars relatives of Americans from visiting. The order suspends the entire U.S. refugee program and, most egregiously, Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely unless they are Christian.”
Feinstein and all the Democratic members of the committee pressed Yates on Monday for information on whether Justice Department lawyers are reviewing Donald Trump’s executive actions.
Yates released a letter Monday evening in which she states that she is not convinced that the Executive Order is lawful and that “as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”
The directive by Yates, a Democratic appointee, will be in place until she leaves the department.
When the U.S. Senate votes on the confirmation of Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on Tuesday, votes in favor of Sessions will likely be seen as a vote to defend the Muslim ban.
Update: Shortly after Yates’ statement was released, she was fired by Trump.
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.