InterFaith Works of Central New York has watched and waited since last October as the Supreme Court deliberated on the Trump travel ban barring people from six primarily Muslim nations. As an agency dedicated to refugee resettlement, religious freedom and racial equity, we hoped for a decision that would speak to our nation’s deeply held values of inclusion. The Court’s decision to affirm the travel ban is a colossal mistake, a disappointment, and a stain on our country and the Court.
We agree with New York State’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who describes the travel ban policy and this court ruling as “encouraging and contributing to a culture of profiling and religious discrimination.”
We call upon Americans to live on higher ground. This is a time to remember our heritage as a nation of immigrants. Immigrants and refugees do not leave their homelands without pressing needs, and many are very frightened for themselves and for the families they have left behind.
Refugees and immigrants are carefully vetted. For refugees, the vetting requirements can take two to four years. Medical, social, political and family ties in the U.S. are scrutinized by multiple U.S. security agencies. The result has been that no acts of terrorism have been committed by any refugee allowed into the U.S. since the program began with the Refugee Act of 1980.
Immigrants also must receive U.S. government permission to enter our country. Those who arrive at a border checkpoint without documents must seek asylum. They are immediately interned, often with adults being separated from their children while their case is examined, their backgrounds checked, and a decision made about whether they will be allowed into our country.
The notion that people from other countries are pouring over our borders unchecked is simply not true, and another way that this administration is whipping up fear.
The impact of the travel ban has deleteriously reduced the number of refugees and immigrants coming to the U.S. In normal times, our declining population is rejuvenated by the arrival of new immigrants. Our economy benefits greatly from their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. By closing our doors, we not only lose our moral humanity, we also lose the economic benefits that refugees and immigrants contribute.
There has been a slow strangulation of U.S. refugee resettlement programs across our nation. The carefully built capacity of these programs goes unused and unfunded. Many cities that enjoyed revitalization – through sales of houses and cars, rental of apartments, purchase of food and clothing, use of city schools and medical facilities – have experienced a downturn of their economies.
As to this administration’s claim that the travel ban will make America safer, national security and foreign relations experts have warned that it has increased the possibility of a terrorist attack because it has inflamed anti-American sentiment globally and undermined key counterterrorism partnerships with other countries.
A ray of light is that the Supreme Court referred aspects of its decision for further inquiry to lower courts. By upholding the responsibility of the U.S. Congress to challenge unjust policies from the executive branch, the Court washed its hands and asked Congress to step in.
We call on the courts and Congress to clearly and definitively say “no” to the travel ban. We call on the Congress to set the entry numbers for refugees at 75,000 – back to a more normal and humane level.
We call on the Congress to press the executive office to fully staff the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), which funds and manages nine refugee resettlement support centers around the world.
Immigration is a key issue in the November midterm elections. Let’s work to have a Congress that will not be afraid to stand up to its executive, and that will put the needs of people, communities and this nation first.
InterFaith Works reaffirms its commitment to refugees and to local Muslim and immigrant communities. We call upon our elected officials to help us create dialogues to find common ground across the false dichotomy that has been inflamed between security for our nation and safe passage for people who desire to become a part of our nation.
This ruling provides us an opportunity to think about who we are as Americans. We cannot surrender our individual or international moral leadership. Our power as a nation comes from our founding values and from the diversity of our people. We can do better than this.
Beth A. Broadway, President/CEO
Shiu-Kai Chin, PhD, Chair, Board of Directors
Madalyn Smith, Convener, Round Table of Faith Leaders
Nov 16, 2018
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