Making our Voices Heard
Last week, President Trump signed an executive order changing US immigration and refugee policy. (read the full text, with annotations here)
Like thousands of other Americans, David and I protested at our local airport.
We protested because over 1,000 individuals were arrested, detained, or denied access to the United States (including children as young as 11 months old being separated from their parents) in dozens of airports across the country.
Well sort of, yes. He can.
Presidents do have the authority to change some of America’s refugee and immigration policies, whether those changes are moral or popular or helpful.
Executive orders are signed by lots of presidents, often about issues that are important to their own political party, and often half of Americans are really angry about them.
In the past, organizations opposed to Immigration-related executive orders have staged small protests, written strongly worded letters, called congress representatives, etc. These rarely have an effect, because the President didn’t do anything wrong, even if we didn’t like the actions.
But this time was different.
In part because social media made it possible for 5,000 people to protest together at DTW with less than 36 hours notice.
In part because this executive order was different than what we’ve seen before, so more people were opposed to it.
A lot of people were upset. 5,000 at the Detroit airport alone. We were everywhere.
This order was significantly different than anything passed before for 4 reasons:
1. This order affects people, not just paperwork
2. This order causes direct harm to legal immigrants and US citizens
3. This order went into effect without warning, and without training of border agents (so, it’s possible that people were detained whom the President never meant to block).
4. This order was signed without any direct cause, reason, or security concern.
Past presidents have occasionally restricted paperwork processing due to specifically identified threats. No one has ever kicked US soldiers, parents, employees, students, and refugees off of a plane.
“I did not know the president can sign such orders. It looks like those autocratic leaders in corrupt countries, not in a democratic modern country like America.”
– Syrian refugee, stranded in an airport in Turkey
It might take months or years to determine if the Executive Order is constitutional. In the meantime, we are repeating history:
So, because of that attitude, we turned away a boat full of Jewish Refugees in 1939.
Was it legal to deny them entry? Yes. Was our National Security at stake? Perhaps.
Was it moral, reasonable, or patriotic? NO.
That is why we march. That is why I preach. That is why we work towards welcome. I hope for a day when I can proudly proclaim that the greatest country in the world is welcoming the most vulnerable and changing the world for the better.