“Extreme vetting” meets resistance:Trump’s travel restrictions draw widespread protests, questions of legality.

On Friday, Jan. 27, President Trump signed an Executive Order restricting immigration and travel from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, as well as an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen were listed in the temporary ban.

Within hours of the public finding out about the first detained travelers on Saturday morning, thousands began to flood airports across the country demanding the release of over 120 detainees being held in the United States. A solidarity action took place on Monday at the Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis.

“I’m here because I am the most vulnerable person who still has a voice. I feel privileged that I have a voice. My mom is a Syrian refugee and I might never be able to get her back to the nation that she gave me birth at. That’s why I am here,” said Sami Al-AbdRabbuh, Corvallis School Board member, Interim Care and Conduct Coordinator at OSU, Arabic Cultural and Language Adviser at OSU, and current PhD student.  

Stating that Muslims from these countries would undergo “extreme vetting,” the Executive Order did not go into detail on how they would be additionally vetted, as many who were detained or deported had gone through processes lasting over a year. Several detainees stated that their social media accounts were inspected by officials and were asked about their feelings on President Trump, as reported by Trita Parsi, leader of National Iranian American Council.

The Executive Order also stated that preference would be given to Christians from the seven listed countries.

Greg Hamann, LBCC president, re-issued a statement originally issued after President Trump was elected.

“…the concerns of our students have about their future safety. The worry that their race, gender, nationality, political or religious beliefs might be used to single them out and threaten their ability to pursue the very education that we are committed to providing them,” said Hamann.

Hamann explained he was re-issuing the statement in an effort to alleviate fears and concerns of students, restating LBCC’s commitment to providing an inclusive campus.

“Our Mission states that it is our purpose ‘to engage in an education that enables ALL OF US to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the cultural richness and economic vitality of our communities.’ I have added my personal emphasis to the words ‘all of us’ because this is the part of our mission that is feared to be under threat… Our Mission rings hollow if the word ‘All’ is missing or is in anyway compromised,” said Hamann.

There are 125 international students at LBCC, and even more including students with dual enrollment at Oregon State University.

Edward J. Ray, OSU President, also issued a statement in response to recent Executive Orders concerning immigration.

“These orders lack detail, are being unevenly implemented, and have created anxiety, uncertainty and hardship among thoroughly vetted refugees, immigrants, those with green cards, and their families and friends,” said Ray.

Over 340 people worldwide were detained, deported, or unable to board flights to the U.S. as a result of the ban, many of which included current dual-citizens, green card holders, and recipients of visas. All of those included were previously authorized to enter the United States, some having lived in the U.S. for over 10 years.

Specific numbers of those who encountered problems with customs are unknown, as the U.S. government has declined to release the information.

The American Civil Liberties Union started monitoring enforcement of the Executive Order as soon as it was signed, and released a statement in response to the order and the phrase “extreme vetting”:

“‘Extreme vetting’ is just a euphemism for discrimination against Muslims. Identifying specific countries with Muslim majorities and carving out exceptions for minority religions flies in the face of the constitutional principle that bans the government from either favoring or discriminating against particular religions. Any effort to discriminate against Muslims and favor other religions runs afoul of the First Amendment.”

Attorneys for the ACLU were able to secure an emergency hearing at federal court in Brooklyn. Judge Ann M. Donnelly granted a stay of deportations to people with valid documents.

“Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country. Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director.

The stay was not adhered to by immigration and customs, and the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement in response to the stay:

“The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people. President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place—prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”

Al-AbdRabbuh gave an impassioned speech at the Benton County Circuit Court that brought many of the 100+ protesters to tears. He urged everyone to call their representatives every day, to keep marching, to keep protesting, and not to quit until the entire Executive Order has been revoked, also calling for the revoking of the Executive Order pertaining to undocumented immigrants and building a border wall.

“I am here because if I disappear tomorrow, it will be too late for you to speak up. It will be too late for everyone to speak up. I remind everyone about the Dodger’s Alley in Munich. The Dodger’s Alley in Munich was not for the Jews, was not for the Gypsies, was not for the gays, it was for the straight, white, German men who refused to do the salute… The SS would take them for reeducation, one after the other, until it was too late. I don’t want us to wait until it’s too late,” said Al-AbdRabbuh.   

Story by K. Rambo

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