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Terrorism expert, CAIR spokeswoman at odds over travel ban

Debate rages over President Trump's executive order

SAN ANTONIO – Two people with extensive background in terrorism and its impact have very different views of President Donald Trump's executive order banning travelers from several foreign countries.

Representing the Council on American-Islamic Relations and as founder of the San Antonio chapter, Sarwat Husain said because of President Trump’s executive order, “The fear factor is very high and anger, especially the families whose loved ones were returned.”

But Jeffrey Addicott, executive director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University, said he agrees with the president temporarily banning refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

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“We have a right to protect our borders and to find out who is coming into our country,” Addicott said. “He has the constitutional authority to do what he did.”

However, the decision has triggered legal challenges, including the nation’s largest lawsuit filed by CAIR Monday, in the wake of the chaos, confusion and protests at airports across the country.

CAIR attorneys said the policy “overtly discriminates against Muslims and officially broadcasts a message that the federal government disfavors the religion of Islam.”

Addicott said nowhere does the executive order mention a specific religion, although during the presidential campaign, candidate Trump often spoke about the need for a “Muslim ban.”

The terrorism expert said, “I would ascribe that to a political statement. He clarified he was only talking about those coming from these types of nations that are terrorist havens.”

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Husain said refugees already undergo months and months of intensive screening before getting their visas.

“When he talks about extreme vetting, I want to know what else he’s going to add to it, there’s nothing else left,” Husain said.

Husain said she was glad to see thousands of Americans protesting the travel ban.

“People came out on the streets, at the airports, to show the nation isn’t divided. In fact, it is more united,” she said.

“I take the protests with a big grain of salt. I know what the president has done is not illegal. He has every right to do it,” Addicott said.

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As far as reaction by terrorists to the travel ban, Addicott said, “No matter what we do or don’t do, will make them more friendly or less friendly.”

Husain said she believes the biggest consequence will be families separated their loved ones.

She asked, “Is that what Mr. Trump wants? Doesn’t he have any compassion?”

Addicott said thousands of Americans have been killed at home and abroad in the war on terrorism that is still ongoing. “When someone says they’re inconvenienced, I really have no sympathy for them,” he said.