WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Monday at signs of rising public opposition to his controversial travel ban as tech giants threw their weight behind a push in US courts to roll it back.

With the ban suspended since Friday, the legal battle has moved to San Francisco where a US court of appeals ordered the administration to submit a brief Monday defending Trump's January 27 decision.

The president's executive order summarily denied entry to all refugees, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - a move critics charge will damage US interests. Despite initial public support, two new polls show that a majority of Americans now oppose the ban - findings that Trump angrily dismissed as media lies. "Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election," he said on Twitter. "Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting." President Donald Trump on Monday also paid his first visit to US Central Command, meeting officers who will form the tip of the spear in implementing his new strategy to defeat the Islamic State group.

After a three-day break at his Mar-a-Lago estate in southern Florida, Trump stopped off at Centcom headquarters in Tampa on his way back to Washington.

Ninety-seven companies, from Apple Incorporated to Zynga Incorporated, filed a legal brief criticizing US President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, stepping up the industry’s growing opposition to the policy, according to media reports.

The amicus brief was filed late Sunday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and emphasizes the importance of immigrants in the economy and society. The companies originally planned to file the brief later this coming week, but accelerated efforts over the weekend after other legal challenges to the order, according to people familiar with the matter. The participating technology companies include Airbnb Inc., Facebook Inc., Google, Intel Corp., Netflix Inc., Snap Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. Companies beyond technology signed on as well, including Levi Strauss & Co. and yogurt maker Chobani LLC."Immigrants make many of the Nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies," the brief states.

Meanwhile, the impact of President Trump’s executive order, barring the nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, is reverberating through the United Nations system, even though it does not affect foreign country envoys who have diplomatic passports, The New York Times said.  And Secretary General António Guterres has told his staff that he has “received assurances” that foreign nationals who have special visas because they work within the United Nations bureaucracy should be able to enter the United States, too. Or as he put it in a memorandum to the staff this week, “the order should not impact UN staff and their families” who are coming into the United States on so-called G4 visas.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Britain's House of Commons said Monday he was "strongly opposed" to allowing Donald Trump to address members of parliament during the US president's state visit later this year.

John Bercow said such a speech was "not an automatic right, it is an earned honour" - and one he would object to following Trump's ban on refugees and travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries.

"Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall," said Bercow, one of three officials who would have to approve the move.

"After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed."

 

Trump, who spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, is said to be increasingly frustrated with his staff's failure to contain the fallout from the ban's botched rollout, which sparked chaos at US airports and drew international condemnation, the New York Times reported.

The order slapped a blanket ban on entry for nationals of the seven mainly-Muslim countries for 90 days and barred all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

Top Republicans also have also shown renewed signs of discomfort with the new president, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chiding Trump on Sunday for attacking the judge who suspended the ban.

Vice President Mike Pence called the setback "frustrating."

"We will move very quickly," he told Fox News on Sunday. "We are going to win the arguments because we will take the steps necessary to protect the country, which the president of the United States has the authority to do."

The attorney generals for the states of Washington and Minnesota, which won the temporary stay of Trump's ban, have asked the appeals court to refuse to reinstate it.

Before now, they argued, no US president has imposed "a categorical bar on admission on a generalized (and unsupported) claim that some might engage in misconduct," they argued.

"The order flouts Congress's clear command prohibiting nationality-based discrimination," they said.

With the ban suspended, travelers from the targeted countries holding valid visas have begun arriving on American soil.

In New York, 33-year-old Sudanese doctor Kamal Fadlalla rejoiced - after a week blocked in his home country, he was back in the Big Apple with friends and colleagues.

"It feels great," Fadlalla told AFP on Sunday at John F. Kennedy International Airport. "It was a tough week actually."

Iranian graduate student Sara Yarjani, who was initially deported under Trump's order, arrived in Los Angeles.

"I am so grateful to all the lawyers and others that helped me," she said tearfully.

The State Department has said visa holders from the seven countries are allowed to travel to the US as long as their documents have not been "physically canceled."

 

 

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT/AFP