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One Week After Trump’s Immigration, Refugee, and Muslim Bans, Lawyers and Advocates Give Update on Fallout, Litigation, Community Response

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A recording of today’s call is available here.

In the past week, Trump signed three immigration-related executive orders that aim to fundamentally change the open character of our nation, contrary to the values on which this country was founded. Today, legal experts and immigration and refugee advocates discussed the status of these immigration, refugee, and Muslim restrictions, as well as litigation to combat them and the response from communities across the nation.

Across the country today, civil rights, faith groups, immigrant rights leaders, and community activists and leaders are gathering in a nationwide day of Muslim solidarity events to respond to Trump’s slew of unconstitutional, dangerous, and unconscionable Executive Orders targeting refugees and immigrants. See the list of events here.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Jamal Abdi, Executive Director, National Iranian American Council Action (NIAC Action),said, “It has been a week since Trump’s disastrous Muslim ban and hundreds of thousands of people still do not know their status in this country. The order has been devastating to America’s standing in the world, and the chaos and confusion has made America far less safe. Legislation has been introduced to overturn the order in both the House and the Senate. Every single Democrat has signed on, but, unfortunately, zero Republicans have supported the legislation or offered an alternative approach.”

Oscar Chacón, Co-founder and Executive Director, Alianza Americas, (speaking for the We Are America Campaign), said, “The We Are America Coalition, led by eight immigrant rights and refugee resettlement and support organizations, is taking a leadership role in challenging prejudice against immigrant and refugee communities, particularly in the form of Islamophobia. In response to this, we are holding today 35 events in cities across 22 states where under the principle of WE ARE ALL AMERICA, we will stand next to Muslim brothers and sisters during their Friday noon prayers. The fears promoted against Mexican, Arabs and people who happen to be Muslims are simply false, and the best antidote to it is getting to know each other.”

Scott Cooper, Retired United States Marine and Director of National Security Outreach, Human Rights First, said, “These Executive Orders have done enormous strategic damage to our country. American military forces currently fighting in Iraq alongside Iraqis are having to deal with this damage. It is a blatant violation for the respect for our partner’s religion and culture. This loss of trust and rapport by the administration has put our forces at risk.”

Greg Chen, Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said, “With these three executive orders, Trump has launched a massive deportation campaign carried out at airports, our borders and in communities throughout our country.  The policies will escalate arrests, detentions, and immediate deportations without access to counsel or a judge—indeed without access to justice. Thousands of families, Dreamers, and people who have lived here for years will be deprived of due process and fundamental Constitutional protections.  That is not the America to which our Founding Fathers dedicated their lives.”

Nicholas Espiritu, Staff Attorney, National Immigration Law Center, said, “It’s important for us to recognize that the Muslim and refugee ban is part of a larger, concerted effort to demonize immigrants and refugees, and inflict pain on families. Whether it’s by building a wall, shutting refugees out, supersizing a deportation force, or banning Muslims, what’s happening is clear: President Trump is turning our immigration system on its head without any regard for the devastating consequences.”

Marshall Fitz, Managing Director, Immigration, Emerson Collective, said, “Since the inauguration, some writers have drawn parallels between Trump’s administration’s actions, methods, and rhetoric and the early steps taken by illiberal, authoritarian regimes. And these parallels have been drawn with good cause: their relentless attacks on the integrity of the press; their preference for his siding with foreign leaders; their refusal to accept indisputable facts; the shameless repetition of verifiable lies; and their vilification of religious and ethnic minorities — just to name a few. But nowhere are the parallels to this march to autocratic rule as obvious as with his assaults, both rhetorical and via executive order, on immigrants.  And nowhere is this threat level as high as it is with the measures going after immigrants who are already in the country.  The orders already executed and the draft orders that have been leaked establish the components, authority, and rationale for a massive assault on immigrant communities.”

Melanie Nezer, Vice President, Policy & Advocacy, HIAS, said, “It’s been an incredibly difficult week for refugees and those of us who work with them.  Crushing disappointment is the only way to describe what refugees and the family members waiting for them in the U.S. for so many years are feeling right now. The U.S. government has unleashed so much needless suffering this week on people who don’t deserve it and have already suffered so much. The damage this has done to families, kids, communities, and the reputation of the U.S. around the world will not be easily undone.”

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said, “We’re here at the end of the second week of the Trump Presidency and the days have been filled with chaos, confusion and restrictions on refugees and immigrants. That is the ugly part.  But we’ve also seen an outpouring of support for immigrants and refugees that is echoing all across the nations.  We’re seeing residents of Amish Country–Lancaster County, Pennsylvania–say that they welcome refugees.  One thousand people rallied in support of immigrants and refugees in Mason, Ohio.  This is not just a coastal phenomenon, all America people  are standing up against Trump’s mean-spirited, ugly policies.”