PANA's Statement on Trump's Executive Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2017
Contact: Ramla Sahid, ramla@panasd.org, 619-265-6611

Trump’s Executive Order An Act of Violence Against Refugees and Muslim People

Rhetoric surrounding new executive order betrays intent to codify religious discrimination into policy

SAN DIEGO – Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting refugee resettlement and people from six-Muslim majority countries in a follow-up to his failed January 28 executive order which was robustly defeated in the courts.

While this executive order is limited in scope when compared to the first unconstitutional executive order, the rhetoric surrounding today’s order unambiguously points towards religious discrimination being prime motivator for this policy, rather than national security.

The new executive order outlines a 90 day ban for travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. The revised order clarifies previous language limiting the scope of the ban to new visas, with a list of exclusions including existing visa holders, dual visa holders, foreign nationals paroled and granted asylum.  Other changes include an omission of Iraq as a targeted country, as well as outlining a series of categorical waivers, and removal of the indefinite ban for Syrian refugees. The order is scheduled to go into effect on March 16, 2017.

The White House has made clear that the revised version was meant to accomplish the same goals as the first. The order continues the halt of the refugee resettlement program for 120 days and caps total refugee resettlement fo FY 2017 at 50,000. This means that the vast majority of Iraqi refugees admitted through the refugee process will be affected and Iraqi nationals, many of whom collaborated with the U.S. government in combatting terrorism will continue to feel the negative impact of the ban. Refugees are already the most thoroughly-vetted group of travelers into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security issued a report claiming there was “insufficient evidence” to support a ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and that country of origin does not predict future behavior.

“Americans value the liberties enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, particularly the first amendment which states that people should be free to practice their religion,” said Ramla Sahid, executive director of the Partnership for New Americans (PANA). “Treating people differently based on what religion they practice should be condemned by our elected leaders, not encouraged. It has serious consequences for people who are only looking for a safe place to raise their children and for Muslim people in the United States who are on the receiving end of threats by people emboldened by what they hear from the President.”

While the previous executive order had been halted from implementation since Judge James Robert issued a temporary restraining order on February 3, there has been widespread confusion and possibly willful noncompliance by government officials charged with enforcement. Several people still have not been able to reschedule travel returning to the U.S. after finding themselves effectively exiled in late January 25. People like, Ismail Heyd’s 68 year old mother and 23 year old brother.

“The impact of these executive orders goes beyond how they’re interpreted by the courts,” added Sahid. “On one hand you have CBP officials who refused to comply when the courts first handed their rulings and on the other hand you have people who are shooting and at times killing innocent people because of the hatred they hold in their hearts. This is the result of the Trump Administration’s fear-mongering. Trump is putting Americans at risk with these actions and we must continue to condemn this administration and elected officials who would look away as our U.S. Constitution is trampled on.”

“Everybody knows that each step of the refugee security check process is time sensitive, so this pause will result in a domino effect of expiring validity periods, forcing refugees who are already approved to wait months and even years to repeat the process from the beginning.Personally, I was hoping to reunite with my sister, who is in a refugee camp in Jordan, and who had hoped to come to San Diego too. Now, it saddens me to think that might never happen.” Said Mustafa Dib, community organizer at PANA.

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