Published in the January 30, 2017 edition.
By DAN TOMASELLO
SALEM — Last week, Congressman Seth Moulton condemned President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees from seven countries in the Middle East.
On Jan. 27, Trump instituted a four-month ban for all refugees entering the United States, including people from war-torn Syria. He said the ban is needed in order to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the U.S.
A federal judge in New York issued an order last Saturday temporarily blocking the government from deporting people with valid visas who arrived after Trump’s travel ban took effect. But confusion remained about who could stay and who will be kept out of the country in the coming weeks. Federal courts in Virginia, Massachusetts and Washington state took similar action.
Additionally, protests erupted at airports across the United States, including Boston’s Logan Airport.
According to The Associated Press, the order immediately suspended a program that last year resettled roughly 85,000 people into the U.S who have been displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice. Trump indefinitely blocked all those fleeing Syria, where a civil war has displaced millions of people, and imposed a 90-day ban on entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim majority nations.
“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” said Trump while signing the order at the Pentagon. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
The State Department said the three-month ban in the directive applied to Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
In a statement, Moulton said “Trump’s policies put our troops’ lives at risk, empower our enemies and do not put America first.”
“President Trump is leading our country out of fear instead of facts,” said Moulton. “His executive orders banning refugees and immigrants from some Muslim majority countries to the United States play right into the hands of our enemies. ISIS has already used his statements to help recruit new suicide bombers, and you can bet Trump’s policies will help inspire attacks against Americans both at home and abroad. His policies literally put our troops’ lives at risk—I’ve heard this loud and clear when I have visited them overseas. They also prove he has zero understanding of our country’s values and no intention of defending our Constitution.”
Moulton continued: “We are a nation of immigrants, and America is stronger when we welcome the refugees of our enemies. These policies do not put America first. I am ashamed that he is our president.”
In a Facebook post, Moulton recalled how he brought a young Syrian refugee child named Ahmad to former President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last year.
“Ahmad lost both arms and three of his siblings when Syria’s president bombed his refugee camp,” said Moulton. “Ahmad came to the U.S. legally and he wants to be a doctor someday. This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue; it’s an American one. We need people on both sides to stand up for our American values.”
Trump said the halt in the refugee program was necessary to give government agencies time to develop what he called an “extreme vetting” system. However, the Executive Order did not outline what additional steps the president wants the Homeland Security and State departments to implement.
According to The Associated Press, the United States will be allowed to admit refugees on a case-by-case basis during the freeze, and the government will continue to process requests from people claiming religious persecution, “provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country.”
In an interview with CBN News, Trump said persecuted Christians would be given priority in applying for refugee status.
“We are going to help them,” Trump said. “They’ve been horribly treated.”
During the past budget year, the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria. Obama had set the refugee limit for this budget year at 110,000.
Trump’s order was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which brought to mind the global effort to help refugees during World War II and its aftermath.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.