Trump refugee ban betrays American ideals

People+gathered+at+Willard+Airport+on+Sunday+to+protest+President+Donald+Trump%27s+executive+order+to+ban+citizens+of+seven+Muslim-majority+countries+from+the+U.S.
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Trump refugee ban betrays American ideals

People gathered at Willard Airport on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from the U.S.

People gathered at Willard Airport on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from the U.S.

Ryan Fang

People gathered at Willard Airport on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from the U.S.

Ryan Fang

Ryan Fang

People gathered at Willard Airport on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from the U.S.

By Jessie Webster, Columnist

Almost 400 years ago this past November, a group of 102 refugees set foot on North American soil for the first time after enduring an eight-week voyage from Plymouth, England, on a ship called the Mayflower.

One of the passengers on that voyage was William Brewster, my 11th great-grandfather, who went on to become a senior elder during the first years of the refugees’ new life in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts.

We all know how the story goes from there; that the refugees relied solely on the generosity and survival skills of surrounding Native American tribes, the land’s first inhabitants, to make it through their first winter in North America.

What if the Native Americans had turned my ancestors away, either with words or with violence? What if they’d turned a blind eye to the religious persecution that forced them to leave England in the first place?

On Friday, President Trump answered those hypothetical questions when he signed an unconstitutional, inhumane and un-American refugee policy.

Trump’s executive order suspended the entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days. It also indefinitely stopped the admission of Syrian refugees, and for 90 days blocked people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

In the wake of the order, students, visitors and green-card-holding residents from the seven countries were stopped at airports in the U.S. and abroad. Detainees at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago included an 18-month old child and a newborn, both U.S. citizens.

Trump’s order, which determines one’s ability to enter the country based on nationality and place of residence, is potentially illegal given the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

It’s also an act of unconstitutional discrimination based on religion. The Supreme Court has consistently stated that the First Amendment’s religion clauses forbid the government from favoring one religion over another.

To add irony to insult, the executive order was issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which should have been a time to offer atonement for the U.S.’s decision to turn away Jewish refugees during the 1930s, many of whom were later murdered in Nazi concentration camps.

In protest of Trump’s executive order, thousands of people gathered at airports across the country to show their support for the targeted immigrants and refugees. Lawyers donated their time to writing writs of habeas corpora in order to help free those that had been unlawfully detained.

On Saturday night, a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of Trump’s order, ruling that refugees and others being held at airports across the country should not be sent back to their home countries.

The judge’s ruling to strike down part of Trump’s order should be seen as a major victory for protesters. So far, vocal and consistent pushback from demonstrators across the country has been one of the most effective methods of keeping the Trump administration’s policies in check.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday morning that green card holders from the seven banned countries would not be prevented from returning to the United States “going forward,” which appears to reverse one of the order’s key mandates.

That correction is not enough to confront the immense damage that Trump’s careless and xenophobic order has already caused. The only acceptable correction is to rescind the order entirely.

If the Native Americans who welcomed my ancestors to the New World 400 years ago had taken a page from Trump’s book, I most likely wouldn’t be here today. Instead, they treated my ancestors with basic human decency and offered them the chance at a new life.

It’s time for those of us who are no longer new to this country to fight for immigrants to receive the same level of human decency and opportunity.

Jessie is a senior in Media.

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