For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
January 30, 2017
The Center for Inquiry condemned President Trump’s executive order halting U.S. entry to refugees and recent immigrants from select Muslim-majority countries as an outrageous act of cruelty, and rebuked his explicit prioritization of Christians over all others as a violation of the Constitution and an appalling act of discrimination.
President Trump’s order, issued on Friday, bars citizens from seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — from entering the U.S. for the next three months and suspends the admission of all refugees for four months. However, it includes an exemption for people who face “religious-based persecution” and who belong to “a minority religion” in their country. Trump stated to the media that he will give priority to Christians, and his advisor Rudy Giuliani admitted the order is nothing more than a dressed-up Muslim ban.
“There are many Christians in desperate need of help in the countries included in Trump’s order, and the U.S. must extend them refuge, wherever they come from,” said Nick Little, CFI’s vice president and general counsel. “But to do so at the legal exclusion of countless other groups also suffering tragic and brutal persecution — such as minority Muslim populations and the nonreligious — is precisely the kind of religious preference in law that is prohibited by the First Amendment. It is an affront to not only American values, but the most basic notions of compassion for our fellow human beings.”
“Abandoning our core legal principles, or stereotyping over a billion people as threats, only harms our efforts to combat terrorists claiming to represent Islam.”
Over the weekend, individuals abroad had visa appointments cancelled and individuals arriving at U.S. airports with visas and green cards — including children and octogenarians — were handcuffed and/or detained. In New York City, an Iraqi interpreter for the U.S. Army was separated from his wife and children and held for more than 19 hours. Some people were held without food or water for hours.
“This executive order has no basis in facts, reason, or human decency,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s domestic and international policy director. “Not a single terrorist attack in the U.S. traces back to any of the seven countries named in the order. Yet people fleeing certain countries on the list — including Syria, Yemen, and Iraq — are trying to escape humanitarian crises that the United States had a hand in creating. Now we are going to shut the door on them? That is simply shameful behavior.”
“The U.S. has a strict screening process and people fleeing humanitarian crisis often face serious scrutiny and lengthy waits,” said De Dora. “This order disrupts a process that is already working, and interferes with the lives of tens of thousands of people. The fact that this order was rolled out without any input from, or guidance to, the federal agencies tasked with enforcing the order shows that the administration did not give it much thought beyond its narrow political agenda.”
Late Saturday night, a federal judge granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a nationwide temporary injunction to block the deportation of people stranded in U.S. airports under Trump’s ban. The situation gave rise to peaceful protests across the U.S.
“The number of protests that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the order has been uplifting to see,” said De Dora. “We urge people to keep taking to the streets. The only way to keep elected officials accountable is to show them we will not be still, and we will not be silent.”
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net.