LANSING — State Reps. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) and Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw) spoke out today against President Trump’s signing of his executive order issuing a temporary ban on most refugees, and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries.
“As the son of immigrants, and now a legislator working to safeguard the freedoms and liberties they sought when moving here, I am appalled by this decision,” said Rep. Hammoud, whose parents immigrated separately to the United States from Lebanon, before meeting here in 1985. “My parents, and the life they were able to build here for me and my siblings, represent America at its best. Their children would not have had the opportunities they’ve been given had they been unable to put their values and work ethic to practice in the land of the free. When we work together and honor our nation’s traditions of mutual respect, inclusivity and opportunity, we thrive as a people.”
“We do not have to guess what happens now that this ban is in place,” said Rep. Chang, the daughter of two Taiwanese immigrants. “Our history books have already told that story, starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It isn’t just that isolationism hurts the U.S. in every way imaginable — economically, geopolitically and culturally — but it damages the world, too. Denying entry to those who need it, who are desperately fleeing turmoil in their countries and view America as their last hope, has consequences that can and will be far reaching. This is an issue for our national conscience. Additionally, it is extremely frustrating to hear fear mongering rhetoric about refugees and immigrants when immigrants statistically commit fewer crimes, and when our current refugee admission process is extremely difficult, lengthy and thorough.”
The executive order would ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except religious minorities fleeing persecution. The order states that this will only remain in effect until “more aggressive vetting is in place.” A separate order blocks visas from being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. A number of refugees and immigrants who were on route to the United States when the ban was signed Friday found themselves unable to enter the country upon airport arrival, and have been detained at the airport since that time. In response, protests were held at major airports across the country, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Several state representatives attended Sunday’s protest.
“We must stand with our Muslim, immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters, because they are part of what makes America great,” said Rep. Rabhi. “This nation has always been a beacon of hope and freedom to the world. This ban has disgraced the very foundation of our national identity. In this country we stand for liberty and justice for all, no exceptions.”
“The United States would not have been able to become the power that it did throughout the 19th and 20th centuries without the physical, financial and cultural contributions of the immigrants that flocked to its shores,” said Rep. Guerra, who is the descendent of Mexican immigrants. “Despite the adversity and challenges we have faced, this nation continues to provide a beacon of light to the downtrodden, oppressed and disenfranchised of the world. At this critical, seemingly unstable time in world history, we cannot afford to extinguish that light.”