Opinion

President Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Orders Won’t Make Us Safer

By Linda Sarsour and José Calderón |  

January 31, 2017 |  

(Justin Starr Photography/Shutterstock)

Over the last week, President Donald Trump has announced a series of devastating executive orders aimed at carrying out his vision for a restrictive and less hopeful America. First, he is authorizing the start of construction of an expensive, useless 1,500-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Next, he is restoring the failed Secure Communities program and attempting to defund “Sanctuary Cities” that refuse to cooperate with this policy. Finally, and perhaps most astonishingly, the president instituted an immediate suspension on all refugee resettlements for 120 days and banned immigration visas for seven predominantly Muslim and Arab nations for 90 days.

Intentionally or not, the President’s orders and Republican support for these measures will clearly fan the flames of hate, division and fear across our nation. Playing communities against each other may win elections. But when it comes to governing and solving our nation’s challenges, such exploitation and fear mongering is indicative of poor leadership and runs contrary to the ideals America has strived to uphold for over 240 years.

None of these policies will fix our broken immigration system. Instead of walls, bans and other antagonistic policies, Washington should get real on immigration with Congressional legislation that will keep families together, bring all immigrants out of the shadows, uphold civil rights and due process, and foster increased U.S. citizenship for all who want to call this nation home.

The president’s own chief immigration advisor, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, recently testified that, “a physical barrier will not do the job.” He instead supports addressing the root causes of immigration as a solution to U.S. immigration challenges. And thanks to rapid response lawsuits from the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and other allies, four federal courts have ordered a stay to halt aspects of the illegal executive order.

These xenophobic policies authorized by the president are never going to make us safer and primarily aim to further divide Americans against each other. But just this weekend, we saw tens of thousands of Americans of good conscience stand up, raise their voices and affirm our nation’s most sacred values of welcoming newcomers, preserving freedoms and striving for justice.

As the heads of two leading Arab and Latino organizations, we are committing to work together to educate, organize and resist any and all unjust policies that would unfairly come after one group of Americans. We will appeal to Congress and the courts, support community organizations on the front lines, engage a diverse array of concerned citizens and immigrants, and take to the streets to prevent the worst of what’s to come and fight for our vision for a safe, just and inclusive nation.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter most.” So Mr. President, we’ve joined together to tell you loud and clear: Actions meant to divide us will be met with active, emphatic and relentless resistance in every corner of our nation.

Linda Sarsour is the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-chair of the January 21st Women’s March on Washington. José Calderón is the president of the Hispanic Federation.

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