Members of Congress and Indian American leaders extend support against selective immigration ban.
The Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Victory Fund has condemned an executive order issued by President Donald Trump last week banning visitors from seven Muslim countries.
At a press conference held at the National Press Club here, attended by members of Congress and former Obama administration officials, speaker after speaker denounced the new Republican administration’s policy terming it “discriminatory” and “un-American.”
The executive order, issued last week, bans citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all predominantly Muslim countries, from entering the United States. It also barred Syrian refugees from entering the country.
Among those present at the Tuesday morning press event were Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois), former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Nisha Desai Biswal, former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Manpreet Singh Anand and chair of the AAPI Victory Fund Shekar Narasimhan.
AAPI represents Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a diverse community of 18 million Americans who are among the fastest-growing minority groups in the Unites States.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be divided by this un-American executive order. It is a stain on our history, just like slavery, internment and denial or voting rights,” said Narasimhan. “Americans confronted and overcame these challenges and we will do the same here. We unite and call on our Members of Congress to deny President Trump the funds to carry out these unlawful executive orders.”
“It is unthinkable that this country, which welcomed me when I arrived at 16 years old, would so boldly, defiantly and barbarically turn its back on immigrants and refugees,” said Jayapal, who is serving her first term in US Congress. “Let us be clear that President Trump came into office by demonizing and ‘otherizing’ immigrants and refugees. While we had hoped that perhaps he would move from being a divisive candidate to being a unifying President, he is failing us. I call on our communities to condemn and resist these executive orders.”
Krishnamoorthi, another freshman, said the Trump administration move will divide America.
“I was elected to help unify our country,” he said. “This executive order from President Trump is an assault on our Constitution; it hurts working families; and it only serves to divide Americans, not unify them… It is no longer time to agonize but to organize. It is time to do everything we can to oppose this executive order.”
Biswal said the Trump ban is unjust and un-American. “This executive order does not make us safer; it imposes the most severe of burdens on the most vulnerable among us,” she said. “To single out people because of their nationality or their faith is unethical. It goes against our responsibilities from the Geneva Conventions and poses an unjust, un-American and what we believe to be an unconstitutional ban on immigrants and refugees.”
Anand, her former State colleague, said the ban would be counterproductive.
“I believe this executive order will not only be ineffective, it will be counterproductive,” Anand said. “National security cooperation, partnership and building trust with other countries in our efforts. This executive order will not achieve its intended policy outcomes. By not including interagency government professionals, the order was horribly executed and will end up being unlawful as well as alienate our partners. Executive orders like this one will be counterproductive to the very national security goals that it purports to achieve.”
Two other Indian American members of Congress, Rep. Ami Bera, the longest serving Indian American congressman, and fellow California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna issued statements forcefully denouncing the ban.
“As the most senior Indian American Member of Congress, I believe that Donald Trump’s executive order does not reflect who we are as Americans,” said Bera. “The actions of the Republican Hindu Coalition today do not reflect the breadth and diversity of the Indian American community, or our diaspora. Prior to 1965, it was very difficult for people of Indian origin to immigrate to the United States, and this order takes us backwards toward that dark time. That’s why I’m fighting back, and today sponsored the SOLVe Act to repeal this discriminatory executive order.”
The SOLVe, or Statue of Liberty Values, Act is a bill pushed by House Democrats to curtain Trump’s immigration ban.
Khanna, the third member of the Indian American freshman class of 2016, was equally emphatic in his criticism of the so-called “Muslim ban.”
“The temporary ban in the executive order is not constitutional,” he said “We cannot allow policies to exist that are not consistent with our founding ideals and values. I swore in on the Constitution, and will always stand up for Constitutional principles.”
(This post was updated.)