***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
January 27, 2017
Press Contact: Olivia Alperstein
Progressive Congress Action Fund Opposes President Trump’s Executive Orders Targeting Muslims, People of Arab Descent, and Immigrants
WASHINGTON, D.C.- “President Donald Trump has recently announced several Executive Orders, including two that target people based on religious or ethnic identity. The first, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” bans travel and visas for people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering or seeking refuge in the United States and includes a litmus test for anyone seeking to enter the country. It is unclear whether people who are already studying or working in the United States will be affected by the ban.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution enshrines freedom of religion as an inalienable right. Targeting people based on religious or ethnic background is unconstitutional and immoral. Our country has made great strides as a leader of the free world and a beacon of liberty by codifying the civil rights of all Americans in our laws and in our Courts. We demand of other nations that they cease censorship and persecution of groups based on identity; we must always lead by example.
The second Executive Order, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” targets Sanctuary Cities in an attempt to stave off their protection of immigrants and refugees seeking safety and opportunity, and further broadens the category of “criminal” immigrants to allow for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and asylum applicants. It gives local non-federal authorities broader scope to enforce immigration laws as they see fit, and to target people of certain ethnic background for suspicion and detention. This vague and overbroad directive will not only impact all immigrants, but anyone who is profiled based on actual or perceived racial identity.
We strongly encourage all cities to create or expand Sanctuary City status, and for all elected officials to stand with their local immigrant, Arab and Muslim communities. We will not be divided by hatred and fear. Our nation was founded by immigrants and refugees, built by immigrants and refugees, and continues to be strengthened by the ideas and innovations of immigrants and refugees. Many of our forbearers fled strife, persecution, or death threats elsewhere- they came to the United States because we have a reputation, well-earned, for welcoming those who seek freedom and liberty, and despite hardship, toil, and prejudice that so many people encountered on these shores, millions of people have been able to plant roots, build communities and businesses, and find opportunities and success here. Our Statue of Liberty has a message of hope for all who come to our shores. That cannot be taken away from us, no matter what an Executive Order may say.
We also have a responsibility to people from the seven countries targeted by Trump’s travel ban. The United States has bombed, declared war on or intervened in the domestic and political affairs of all seven nations named in the ban—we have contributed to the humanitarian crises that have led people in countries like Syria and Iraq to seek refuge in the United States. We cannot turn a blind eye to the human suffering that has forced people out of their countries in fear of their lives; our immigration policies must reflect a better understanding of the full scope of the global refugee crisis and our role in resettling and assisting refugees, the vast majority of whom pose no threat to our nation and whose lives depend on our ability to welcome not criminalize them.
In addition, we cannot fail to recognize the wars, violence, abject poverty, and natural disasters in certain countries in South America, Central America, Africa and Asia, which have led many people to flee here, both documented and undocumented immigrants. These people’s lives depend on our ability to see their potential contributions to our society and their potential to engage civically to improve our nation. We must look to their potential, rather than fueling the ignorance- and fear-based policies which so many of our forbearers faced when they entered this country.
As a nation we must advance progress on all fronts, including immigration. We cannot afford to regress as a nation into isolationism, fearmongering, or prejudicial exclusion.
As an organization, Progressive Congress Action Fund has always been and remains deeply invested in advocating for immigration reform that is based on compassion instead of fear, and we will join Muslim, Arab, and Latinx Americans and civil rights and immigrant rights organizations across the country in combatting the heightened discrimination against ordinary American citizens that such Executive Orders will doubtless enable.”