“The U.S. refugee program was created in the aftermath of World War II. At that time, we rightly rejected antisemitic ideology and embraced our role as a beacon of hope and freedom for those in need. Since that time, US refugee protection has never been a partisan issue, nor a political one. Presidents from both parties have long recognized that the U.S. refugee admissions program is essential to global stability and our reputation as a leader on the world stage.”
— U.S. Representatives John Conyers and Zoe Lofgren
Donald Trump intends to cap America’s annual refugee admissions at a historic low, marking the administration’s latest crackdown on immigrants from some of the world’s most vulnerable groups.
A U.S. state department report seen by the Guardian shows that the administration has briefed Congress it will admit just 45,000 refugees in 2018, the lowest number requested by any president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued in the last year of the Obama administration.
Government officials said the family members were given back their passports and visas and will be interviewed April 5 in Seattle to determine if they are eligible to use those visas to remain in the United States.
“It is a victory in a battle that shouldn’t have been fought. The government swung and missed on this issue, and they just got it wrong.” — Attorney Robert Blume
An Afghan family of five who traveled to the United States on special visas and were detained by immigration officials at the Los Angeles airport were released from custody Monday, according to the U.S. government and the family’s attorneys.
The mother, father and their three young sons, including a baby, arrived at the airport Thursday for a connecting flight to Washington state, where they planned to resettle.
Instead, U.S. immigration officials detained them and split them up. They planned to send the mother and children to a detention center in Texas, but lawyers intervened over the weekend and got a federal judge to quash the transfer.
Homeland Security officials haven’t said why the family was held, while immigrant advocates asserted in a court petition that there was “absolutely no justification whatsoever.”
Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world. It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
United States of America
Dear President Trump:
We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world. If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.
The order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses. American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning, added to our prosperity, and enriched our culture. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy. America’s educational, scientific, economic, and artistic leadership depends upon our continued ability to attract the extraordinary people who for many generations have come to this country in search of freedom and a better life.
We offer three vignettes of travelling to the U.S. in recent days.
1. The son of Muhammed Ali is detained at Ft. Lauderdale
“Where did you get your name from?”
“Are you Muslim?”
These were the questions asked of Muhammad Ali Jr. at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport on February 7, before being detained for “several hours” by immigration and customs officials. Yes, that’s Muhammad Ali Jr., as in the son of the Champ, one of the greatest athletes and humanitarians to ever walk the earth. That’s Muhammad Ali Jr., as in the son of a man whose funeral in June was televised across the nation; a man who was lionized by political leaders who are now turning a blind eye to — or actively defending — what’s happening to this country. That’s Muhammad Ali Jr., detained for hours in the country of his birth, 20 minutes from his house because of those two questions: “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” He answered, “My dad was the heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali,” and, “Yes, I certainly am.”
They didn’t believe his answer to the first question, and could not abide the answer to the second.
2. A British schoolteacher is denied entry on a trip with his schoolchildren
A British Muslim schoolteacher travelling to New York last week as a member of a school party from south Wales was denied entry to the United States.
Juhel Miah and a group of children and other teachers were about to take off from Iceland on 16 February on their way to the U.S. when he was removed from the plane at Reykjavik. The previous week, on the 10 February, a U.S. appeals court had upheld a decision to suspend Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned entry to the country from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The trip proceeded as planned but pupils and colleagues were left shocked and distressed after the maths teacher, a British citizen who had valid visa documentation, was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel.
3. A 70-year-old Australian children’s book author is interrogated on her 117th trip to the U.S.
The Australian children’s book author Mem Fox has suggested she might never return to the U.S. after she was detained and insulted by border control agents at Los Angeles airport.
Fox, who is famous worldwide for her best-selling books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and Possum Magic, was en route to a conference in Milwaukee earlier this month when she was stopped.
She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was questioned by border agents for two hours in front of a room full of people — an experience that left her feeling like she had been physically assaulted.
We Americans should now condemn our own extremist.
By Nicholas Kristof / The New York Times
February 2, 2017
My dream is of the day when Jews protest Islamophobia, Muslims denounce the persecution of Christians and Christians stand against anti-Semitism. That’s why I apologize to Muslims, and it’s why ALL of us, not just Muslims, should stand up to condemn extremism in our midst.
Whenever an extremist in the Muslim world does something crazy, people demand that moderate Muslims step forward to condemn the extremism. So let’s take our own advice: We Americans should now condemn our own extremist.
In that spirit, I hereby apologize to Muslims. The mindlessness and heartlessness of the travel ban should humiliate us, not you. Understand this: President Trump is not America!
I apologize to Nadia Murad, the brave young Yazidi woman from Iraq who was made a sex slave — but since escaping, has campaigned around the world against ISIS and sexual slavery. She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, yet is now barred from the United States.
I apologize to Edna Adan, a heroic Somali woman who has battled for decades for women’s health and led the fight against female genital mutilation. Edna speaks at American universities, champions girls’ education and defies extremists — and she’s one of those inspiring me to do the same.
President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration ban.
By Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman / The Washington Post
January 30, 2017
Yates felt she was in an “impossible situation” and had been struggling with what to do about a measure she did not consider lawful. A Justice official confirmed over the weekend that the department’s office of legal counsel had been asked to review the measure to determine if it was “on its face lawful and properly drafted.”
President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.
In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.
Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.
“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”
Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, ordered the Justice Department on Monday not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court.
“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”
The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.