Rep. Tammy Duckworth urged U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis Wednesday to stand up to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, claiming it could endanger American troops.
In a letter to Mattis, Duckworth recalls the secretary’s criticism of Trump’s initial proposal for a “Muslim ban." In July, Mattis told Politico that a ban would leave American allies wondering if the country has “lost faith in reason."
“They think we’ve completely lost it,” Mattis said, referring to the Middle East. “This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system.”
Duckworth said Mattis’ past comments indicate the secretary understands “the security implications of this dangerous [executive order] for the region” and how it will complicate further efforts to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group commonly known as ISIL, or ISIS.
Trump’s order halts all refugee resettlement into the U.S. for 120 days, imposes an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria, and suspends entry of immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen - all Muslim-majority nations - for 90 days.
Duckworth, who served in Iraq at the same time as Mattis, pointed to the inherent risk the order poses to U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East. She said the measure feeds into the “apocalyptic narrative” put forth by extremist groups in the region.
“There are over 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, many of whom are embedded with frontline Iraqi units and working side-by-side with their Muslim counterparts as they encircle Mosul to expel [ISIL] from their last stronghold in that country,” Duckworth wrote.
“Each of these brave Americans serving in uniform was put at risk by President Trump’s January 27, 2017 executive order,” she added.
Duckworth’s letter highlights the story of Cpl. Ali Mohammed, an American marine who fled his home in Baghdad after his family received threats from extremists for their role in supporting American troops. Last week, the Defense Department featured Mohammed on its Twitter account.
“He became a Marine and is currently deployed to Iraq in support of our counter-ISIL efforts,” Duckworth wrote. “You should know him well, since your own Department posted a message about him on Twitter last week right before the President signed an order that would have barred him from entering this country."
Trump has defended the executive order as being narrowly focused, tweeting Monday that "only 109 out of 325,000" people were detained and held for questioning as a result of the ban. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed the president during an appearance Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"Three hundred and twenty-five thousand people flew into this country from airports and 109 people were affected and slowed down in their travel," Spicer said. "I understand that it is an inconvenience but at the end of the day that is a small price to pay as opposed to somebody losing their life because a terrorist attack was admitted.
The Associated Press published a fact check Monday that found "nearly 400 green card holders actually were delayed after arriving at U.S. airports after the travel ban was signed."