An attorney and a political activist say they're both disappointed in changes to a new travel ban issued by the Trump administration, but the new language was likely changed to please an appeals court.
President Donald Trump issued a revised travel ban March 6 after a federal appeals court blocked his first ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries in January.
The new ban drops Iraq from the list of countries at the request of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis but retains some of the original plan, including cutting the number of refugees admitted per year from 110,000 to 50,000.
Although it stressed the ban didn't target Muslims, the White House was accused by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appleals of favoring Christians over Muslims by adding "religious minority" language in the executive order.
"The fact that the Ninth Circuit (Court of Appeals) cited that language was probably an incentive for that language not to be included," observes Brad Dacus of California-based Pacific Justice Institute.
Dacus suspects, however, that migrants from those six countries will be closely scrutinized by the Trump administration. A necessary part of any risk assessment must include their status as a religious minority, he says.
CNS News, the conservative news website, has reported frequently on the tiny number of self-identified Christians from the Middle East who were allowed into the U.S. under the Obama administration. Of 17,790 refugees admitted from Syria since 2015, for example, 98.8 percent were Muslim and just 156 were Christians.
The allowance of persecuted Christians into the U.S. follows a noble tradition of welcoming persecuted peoples, says Robert Knight, a Washington Times columnist and senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union.
"We have taken in Cuban refugees who are fleeing Fidel Castro's communist island," he says. "We've taken in people from Korea who are fleeing North Korea."
It's well-known, he adds, that Christians are being targeted in the Middle East for their faith.
"The original rollout of the travel ban allowed religious minorities some leeway, and that's missing from the current order and that's a bad thing," Knight complains. "I think that shows a retreat from what was right."
Even though the "religious minorities" language was removed, says Dacus, that doesn't mean persecuted Christians will be passed up when deciding who should be granted refugee status as they were under Obama.
"We're hopeful that this president, no matter whether or not it has that language or not," says Dacus, "will have a heightened scrutiny and sensitivity to those most persecuted and most in need of immediate protection as refugees. And that would be the religious minorities there in the Middle East."