we are immigrants

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Friday was a dark moment in American history. After ousting top officials at the State Department, the president issued an executive order broadly construing his presidential powers to keep Muslim immigrants out of our country.

My husband is a Muslim immigrant.  My daughter is the grandchild of Muslim immigrants.  This country is made up of immigrants and refugees and those seeking asylum.

In his order, the president appealed to fear and xenophobia and racism, citing the 9/11 attacks to recklessly rupture U.S. relations with countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The order imposed a 90-day suspension of immigration to the United States from certain predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (note that the perpetrators of 9/11 were from none of these countries).  Greencard holders in those countries were blocked reentry to the U.S. The order also placed a 120-day ban on entry of people with refugee status and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.

This resulted in crisis for many.  People flew into the U.S. with their refugee-status visas and personal possessions and were detained rather than allowed to enter the country. Those who have obtained visas and remain outside of the U.S., but who fall under the order’s sweeping provisions, may not use their visas to enter.

This is un-American.  Where we board up our shores and wall our borders to those seeking refuge or opportunity here, we alienate important allies and strengthen our adversaries. Most importantly, we lose sight of our values that gave us the Constitution, ensuring rule of law, equal protection, and checks on power.

I am heartened by the outpouring of support protesters gave to those detained at the airports, by the ACLU attorneys who challenged the executive order, by the courageous Federal Judge Ann Donnoly who stayed the order, and by the journalists covering this and announcing where and when protests are happening.

These are the moments when we must offer our minds and bodies and voices to create change.   We must cash in on our education and privilege and show up.  We must teach our children to be kind, informed, and passionate.  We must garner strength from the hope that came out of Friday’s events, support each other, and forge headlong into tomorrow.  No matter how big the adversary, for our Constitutional values to prevail, we must never give up.

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