“Flagrantly unconstitutional,” is what New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called President Donald Trump’s Friday, 27, 2017, executive orders suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days and banning the admittance of Muslims from Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Yemen into the U.S. and barring all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Unprecedented has been the immediate and take-it-to-streets response worldwide.
Trump’s promised and swiftly implemented actions drew tens of thousands of people to major airports such as JFK, LAX and others as almost 400 people were denied entry into the country as they disembarked from international flights. Swarms of lawyers, many working pro bono, and placard-hoisting protestors clogged the airports this past weekend demanding that detained travelers be released, and that Trump rescind his draconian order. As he signed the order at the Pentagon, Trump said, “I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.”
While many nations across the world, including the affected nations plus Nigeria and Germany, condemned Trump’s orders, in Britain the parliament debated whether they should ban America’s 45th president from entering the country.
As Schneiderman joins a federal lawsuit “to permanently strike down this dangerous and discriminatory order,” it still has many people’s lives disrupted. Families, doctors, teachers, students, and children are separated, in limbo, unable to travel home or join families and friends. The fear is palatable in subway cars, on street corners, in cafes, in mosques, on call-in radio shows, on cable and network news show, in school yards, in college campuses, in churches and behind the closed doors of family homes.
Saturday, as chaos ensued at JFK and other airports across the nation, Americans Civil Liberties Union and immigration lawyers descended, and a Brooklyn federal judge put a temporary stay on at least a portion of Trump’s executive order, allowing the release of those detained.
Judge Ann M. Donnelly said their treatment “violates their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
The White House spokesperson stated, “It is the right and duty of the president to do everything in his legal and constitutional power to protect the American people … Saturday’s ruling does not undercut the president’s executive order. All stopped visas will remain stopped. All halted admissions will remain halted. All restricted travel will remain prohibited. The executive order is a vital action toward strengthening America’s borders, and therefore sovereignty. The order remains in place.”
LaRay Brown, CEO of Interfaith Medical Center, spoke of the now barred Dr. Kamal Fadlalla, a second year resident in internal medicine at Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn from Sudan. In the statement sent to the AmNews, Brown stressed, “American patients rely on doctors trained at foreign medical schools. Each year, around a quarter of the residents and fellows in advanced training programs around the U.S. attended medical school outside the country. About 15 to 20 percent of the total are not U.S. citizens.”
Fadlalla’s union is currently doing everything they can to help him navigate this situation.
“My colleagues are going to be affected,” Fadlalla said. “My hospital is going to be affected. And for sure, my patients are going to be affected.”
Herve Comeau, Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County told the AmNews, “The order, entitled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,’ as well as other recent changes to our immigration policies, has separated families and caused a general panic. Since the late 1970s, Syracuse has welcomed refugees into our community. A great many of these refugees have been Muslims. They have given a great deal to this city, both economically and culturally, and now more than ever we should stand with them. Our legal community has already begun to respond, providing ‘Know Your Rights’ presentations, and we stand ready to provide legal assistance to those who need it.”
Comeau added, “We have clients who are afraid of speaking out, of the retribution that might follow. We are advising noncitizens from those seven countries listed in the order not to travel outside of the country, and asking them to make plans for the care of their children in the eventuality that they are barred from re-entering the country or detained. I’m a first-generation immigrant to this country, and though I’m disheartened by the administration’s actions, I am incredible proud of the city’s response and the legal community’s support.”
In attempt to sooth the fears of New Yorkers, the Department of Education and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs issued both a letter to parents of the city’s 1.1 million students and a press release stating the rules and regulations controlling the public school system here.
Addressing immediate issues of concern is the letter from Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Nisha Agarwal, NYC Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs. In part, the letter reads, “As in the past, DOE staff will not ask about or keep a record of the immigration status of a student or family member. If you do share confidential information, including immigration status, about yourself or your family, it will be protected under the city’s confidentiality policy and the Chancellor’s Regulations. DOE staff will not grant unlimited access to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Like all other law enforcement agencies, ICE is not permitted access to schools without proper legal authority. DOE staff will not release student information unless required to by law.”
The DOE and Immigrant Affairs statement includes question and answers such as, “My family is from (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, or Yemen). Should I be concerned about the president’s ban on immigration from these countries? Every child in New York City has a right to a public school education, regardless of national origin. The president’s order does not change this. If you are concerned about how the president’s order may affect your or your family members’ ability to remain in the U.S. or travel, call 311 and say “ActionNYC” for an appointment for free, safe immigration legal help.” (See the full letter and press release on pages___.)
After an overflowing emergency community meeting this past Sunday, held at Gourmet Sweets, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke told the AmNews, “I am outraged by Donald Trump’s decision to prevent citizens from several Muslim countries from entering the United States. This is contrary to our values and an attack on decency itself. We are better than this. But Donald Trump’s recent actions are not only contrary to our values. They are also contrary to our interests. This order will help our enemies recruit supporters, make it harder for law enforcement officials to build trust with immigrant communities here at home, and prevent us from attracting the world’s top talent and creativity.”
This week Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and CUNY student leaders, including members of the University Student Senate and CUNY Dreamers, spoke out in concern for Saira Rafiee, an Iranian young woman enrolled at the CUNY Graduate Center through an F1 visa who is being denied re-entry into the United States. The Brooklyn resident was told by Customs officials in the United Arab Emirates that she would be unable to return to school in America. Approximately 120 students from the affected countries are enrolled in the CUNY system.
CUNY recommended that immigrant and nonimmigrant students, faculty and staff from the seven affected countries avoid traveling outside of the U.S.
SUNY Student Assembly President Marc. J. Cohen and CUNY University Student Senate Chairperson Chikaodili Onyejiukwa released the following statement: “On behalf of the 1.2 million students who attend the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY), we, the duly elected students representatives of our respective student bodies, are calling on our elected officials to take action against the discriminatory Executive Order issued by the president of the United States.”
Kevin Judd, president of the National Bar Association stated that the executive order “is discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
He stated, “It is illegal to bar individuals from entering the country based on nationality. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 explicitly says that no person can be ‘discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, and nationality, place of birth or place of residence.’ The order also indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees and for 90 days bars individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The Department of Homeland Security said the order also applies to green card holders reentering the United States.”
Judd noted, “The effect of the executive order—to bar entry to individuals from predominantly Muslim countries, while creating exceptions for Christians and those practicing ‘a minority religion’—is discriminatory.”
Attorney Brian Figeroux told the AmNews that the new social justice struggle is indeed the new Civil Rights Movement. “Americans for social justice will win this war,” the managing partner of Figeroux and Associates declared. “A war against immigrants is a war against Blacks, which includes African-Americans and all other Americans. President Trump has declared war through an unconstitutional executive order which targets Muslims using the Department of Homeland Security as the front line in his unlawful warfare. The president and his allies have also targeted 3 million immigrants who have allegedly committed crimes that make them deportable. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission [EEOC] is warning employers that discrimination by national origin is unlawful. Currently, new laws restricting voting rights in Texas and other states are moving forward to become law. Trump is on the job.”
Figeroux noted, “In the most recent crisis, Judge Ann M. Donnelly of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, ruled, in Darweesh v. Trump, just before 9 p.m., on Friday, Jan. 28, 2017, that implementing Mr. Trump’s order by sending the travelers home could cause them ‘irreparable harm.’ She said the government was ‘enjoined and restrained from, in any manner and by any means, removing individuals’ who had arrived in the United States with valid visas or refugee status.”
The Brooklyn-based lawyer stated, “We need to stop saying ‘we’ will survive Trump, because millions have died here and in other countries with this position. Americans have already shown their disapproval of the Trump administration through demonstrations and litigation. The Civil Rights Movement is now a social justice movement. Trump, you are unwelcome to the presidency. You and your hate group will be defeated. Good Americans fighting for social justice will prevail. Join a resist Trump group and make a difference.