TAMPA, Fla. -- When President Trump first issued his executive travel order, opponents called it a ban and quickly filed suit to challenge it.
Hassan Shibly, executive director of the CAIR office in Tampa, was among the first to join that lawsuit – calling it a discriminatory ban on Muslims trying to travel to the United States.
At the time, the White House vehemently denied it was a ban. In fact, on the very same day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer chastised the press for using the term.
“Well, first of all, it’s not a travel ban,” said Spicer. “A ban would mean people can't get in. We've clearly seen hundreds of thousands of people come into our country from other countries.”
Fast forward a little over four months, and now Trump himself is the one using the word “ban” to describe his order.
The president referred to the policy as a “ban” during a series of posts to Twitter Monday morning.
At times, Trump even used capital letters to stress the point. He also urged the Justice Department to go back to the original order which had been challenged by Shibly and others.
“Well, the president is vindicating us and saying what we have been saying all along,” said Shibly, “And what other people of been denying. Which is, that this is indeed a ban.”
The president's comments, following the London terror attacks, also urge the Justice Department to ask for an expedited hearing in front of the Supreme Court. "In any event," he wrote, "we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S."
Shibly says CAIR -- the Council on Islamic American Relations - Florida -- does not oppose effective vetting, but that many U.S. citizens and green card holders with legal status, claim to have been unreasonably questioned or even detained.
At Tampa International Airport, Muslim-American passengers expressed a similar perception.
“You know, unfortunately, there are cases where people do overstep their bounds,” said Adam, whose parents were traveling from Toronto.
“They are being asked – ‘Are you a devout Muslim, how many times a day do you pray, what mosque do you go to, which school of thought do you follow? What do you think of Jesus, and Moses? What do you think of Trump?’” said Shibly.
In response, CAIR continues to urge U.S. citizens who feel they're being unfairly profiled to refuse to answer such questions, and demand to speak with a lawyer or be immediately released.
Lower courts have ruled against Trump's travel ban, in part, citing his own words during his campaign. CAIR says they believe his latest tweets, will similarly undermine his own case.
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