Welcoming refugees amid a travel ban
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON | 2/19/2017, 5:41 a.m.
30th Congressional District of Texas
On Jan. 27, just a week after his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order implementing a travel ban for entry to the United States for travelers from seven countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order was signed hastily and has had disastrous ramifications.
Alarmingly, the travel ban also includes those who have a valid visa from one of those seven countries, and there have been reports of people being detained from countries off of this list. It is becoming a Muslim Ban, fulfilling the worst of Donald Trump’s promises during his divisive campaign. Exclusivity of this nature does not represent us as a people and country.
If Donald Trump’s administration does not reverse course, we will be remembered as a nation made up of immigrants that lost its values due to hate and fear.
In a White House press release, the president attempted to justify his insensitivity to humanity by stating, “The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.”
Under the executive order, the U.S. refugee program is suspended for 120 days while indefinitely not allowing refugees to enter from Syria. What is disheartening to me is that these are suffering humans who have risked everything to flee persecution and danger, and they have already undergone a nearly two-year rigorous vetting process in order to enter the U.S.
Nevertheless, all of the sudden, thousands are being turned away due to this hasty and hateful ban. When refugees arrive to our country and here in the Dallas area, they are welcomed by generous families, church members and citizens who work with nonprofits who help them become acclimated to a new city and country, enroll their children in schools and assist them in learning English and applying for jobs so they can fully participate in our democracy. They appreciate America and came here to contribute to American life – they should not be greeted with hostility.
In Dallas and North Texas, we have opened our doors to refugees fleeing war and persecution and famine and poverty – welcoming them to our community, because we believe. People deserve peace, no matter where they come from. Parents should not have to shelter or hinder their children from adventure because of the dangers that await them. Additionally, children should be able to receive a quality education. These are basic privileges that we so often take for granted in America, not realizing that refugees are seeking to have a more fulfilled life and become contributors of society instead of hidden beings.
Our communities are not threatened by our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters; in fact they have allowed us to reflect on who we are as people by showing compassion and truly living out the foundation this nation was built upon. We will continue to respect religious differences and I will promote dialogue between citizens of the community through our annual workshops that promote awareness around Refugee Day.
Perhaps there is some underlying fear my Republican colleagues have with the arrival of immigrants and refugees – noting the newest bill being proposed to curtail the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter the country. As the travel ban is currently under review in the lower courts, the Trump administration is seeking a reversal of its temporary suspension to move forward. However, instead of continuously stoking the fears of innocent Americans, we need to remember that there are people around the world and whom we live among that are attempting to live a better life.
The North Texas and Dallas community continues to prosper because of how immigrants and refugees contribute positively to our community and help us build a stronger state and nation.
U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.