WASHINGTON—Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who carried on a feud with now President Donald Trump after he skewered the future president for anti-Muslim rhetoric at the Democratic National Convention, appeared with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota Wednesday, to demand that Congress block Trump’s travel ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations.
Khan and Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, called the executive order that singled out citizens of Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for special screening a malicious attack on religious freedom.
“Presidents have a prerogative to address the concerns of the nation, the safety of the nation,” said Khan, whose Army captain son was killed trying to stop a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004. “But a president cannot act based on malice. His malice was proven when he was using his prerogative to issue this executive order.”
Ellison, who is in the running to head the Democratic National Committee, said that Trump’s executive order definitely targets Muslims despite White House denials that that is its purpose.
“I don’t know why Donald Trump is shy suddenly about calling this Muslim ban a ‘Muslim ban.’It is a Muslim ban. He said it was a Muslim ban, he called it a Muslim ban,” he said. “The intent is clear of what they’re doing.”
He and several other Democratic congressmen, including New York Reps. Joe Crowley and Gregory Meeks, pledged to “fight relentlessly for that idea of liberty and justice for all.”
Khan became a household name after his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia where he criticized then-candidate Trump for having made no sacrifices for America while Khan lost his son. Trump quickly fired back, criticizing Khan’s wife for not saying anything as she stood next to her husband and asserting that he had made many sacrifices.
Khan seemed eager for a similar exchange on Wednesday.
“Donald Trump, two-thirds of your wives are immigrants. Your children’s mothers are immigrants. Don’t you have any concern about immigration to this country?” Khan said.
That theme was struck by other members of Congress who also appeared. Newly elected Washington state Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who emigrated from India to the U.S. at age 16, said Trump should remember that America is a nation of immigrants.
“Let’s be clear, unless you’re our Native American brothers and sisters, we have all been willing and unwilling immigrants to the United States that have helped build this country,” Jayapal said.
“And to President Trump, I would say, ‘Shame on you. You won this election on the backs of fear-mongering and ‘other-izing’ immigrants, refugees.”
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., expressed surprise that House Speaker Paul Ryan, “a man with whom I share the Catholic faith,” supports Trump’s order.
Gutiérrez spoke on the House floor earlier Wednesday, displaying the pocket-sized copy of the Constitution that Khan had signed. At the Democratic convention, Khan had held up his own small copy of the Constitution.
“Mr. Khan, I hope that you understand that we are all your sons. We are all your sons and we follow you as our … father,” Gutiérrez said.
Gutierrez also said his fellow Democrats will take the fight against religious discrimination to Congress.
“Let me just say, we are ready. We are ready to fight. We are ready to win,” he said.