Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti . Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles Mayor and potential Democratic presidential candidate Eric Garcetti joined Southland civic leaders and elected officials Tuesday to condemn the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s executive order that largely bans travel and immigration from the nations of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision condones discrimination against Muslims worldwide. That is wrong and un-American,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a Twitter posting. “As the city with the most people impacted by the travel ban, L.A. can assure you: we can keep our country safe without abandoning the ideals that define who we are.”

The executive order has been termed a “Muslim ban” by critics despite the fact that it makes no mention of religion. Five of the seven countries included have Muslim-majority populations, and Trump openly speculated while campaigning for the presidency in 2015 and 2016 that the United States needed a temporary ban on Muslims traveling to the United States in light of terrorist attacks by extremists in the United States and other nations.

The court ruled, 5-4, that Trump’s order was firmly in keeping with presidential authority to restrict immigration, and noted that his previous words had no bearing on the current policy.

The court’s explanation did not mollify critics of the policy.

“This ban and the ones before it have not contributed to an increased safety for Americans. They have only propagated unwarranted fear and mistrust of law-abiding Muslims from around the world attempting to lawfully enter the country for work, for medical purposes, to visit family or to attend school,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Los Angeles chapter. “This is not the end of the road. It is a setback. We, along with our civil rights allies, will continue to mobilize our communities, and engage elected officials and the media to challenge this ban.”

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, said: “The majority opinion ignored reality and turned a blind eye on the intent and motivation behind Trump’ discriminatory proclamation. The president made clear over time that the intention behind this act was to use his legal authority over immigration to propagate anti-Muslim prejudice.”

Chu said she agreed with the dissenting opinion by Justices “(Sonia) Sotomayor and (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and the parallels they point out with Korematsu v. U.S., in which the federal government was given a pass to justify the exclusion of an entire group of people based on `an ill-defined national security threat.’

“Today, our current vetting system is capable and successful at weeding out threats, which is why immigrants and refugees from these countries have not been terrorists or criminals, but instead have settled peacefully and are contributing to our communities,” she said. “This is an intentional strategy, along with his zero tolerance at the border and proposed changes to legal immigration to prevent non-whites from coming to this country. America cannot go down the path of prejudice again. It’s wrong morally and economically. That is why we must quickly pass H.R. 4271, a bill I introduced along with (Connecticut) Senator Chris Murphy to block any federal funding for the implementation of this ban.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, concurred, tweeting that the decision to uphold the ban “is deeply disappointing and gives scant weight to @POTUS’s explicit statements about its impermissible intent. We must fight for our national values, which are threatened by Trump’s actions and the historically conservative court now upholding them.”

Labor leader Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, also condemned the ban.

“Day after day, our communities are getting attacked by this administration,” Hicks said. “As the Los Angeles labor movement, we condemn intolerant and bigoted policies that seek to divide working people. The Supreme Court’s xenophobic ruling targeting our Muslim sisters and brothers only paves the way for more division and hate in our country.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the nation’s high court “got this one wrong. One day, this nation and court will look back and regret this ruling that legalized discrimination. We will continue to fight actions that unlawfully target people based on their background or faith.”

In March, Becerra joined an amicus brief in the case, Trump v. Hawaii et al, in which he cited the harmful impact on California in light of the large number of students from the countries under the ban attending California universities, refugees in the state, and impacts on California’s industries.

Trump touted the ruling as “a tremendous victory for the American people and the Constitution.”

“The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the president to defend the national security of the United States,” he said. “In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country. This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.

“As long as I am president, I will defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American people, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens,” he said. “Our country will always be safe, secure, and protected on my watch.”

The court’s ruling noted that the ban has several moderating features, including a waiver program that allows some people from the affected countries to enter the United States. The administration has said that 809 people have received waivers since the ban took full effect in December.

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