By Donita Naylor
Rhode Island’s congressional delegation condemned President Trump’s executive order on immigration, saying it amounts to a religious test for entering the country and will harm innocent people and U.S. interests.
“I believe Americans are wiser, braver and more generous than this President,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse tweeted. He also issued a statement that said:
“The last time ‘America First’ folks closed our borders, it was to European Jews fleeing the Third Reich…. The blunt signal this makes to the Arab world will help Russia and hurt us.”
Trump’s order suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, blocks Syrian refugees indefinitely, and closes the door into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
It makes no allowances for women and children or for people targeted for death because they supported or worked for U.S. troops. Whitehouse added: “None of the 9/11 terrorists came from these countries.”
Sen. Jack Reed called Trump’s “intolerant and misguided” order “a new religious test” that was unconstitutional “and will do nothing to keep us safe,” He said the United States needs cooperation from the Muslim world to defeat terrorism.
Also, he said, “The people targeted by this unnecessary action are fleeing the same violent extremists who would seek to disrupt our way of life. These are people who look to the United States to offer a safe harbor…. Turning our backs on those in need is not the American way.”
He called on Republicans to “keep faith with the Constitution and reject this religious ban before it spreads.”
Rep. David Cicilline said the executive order was “an outright betrayal of the values that define our nation.” In a statement from Pawtucket, he said “we are allowing fear and hysteria to prevail over facts and reason.”
The process of checking refugee backgrounds takes from 18 to 24 months, he said, and is so thorough that “not a single Syrian refugee has been convicted of a terrorism-related offense in the United States.”
The executive order will not make the nation safer or prevent future attacks, Cicilline said. “In fact, the only thing that will happen as a result is that more innocent men, women, and children will die.”
Rep. James Langevin’s statement from Warwick said: “America has always stood as a beacon of hope … and it is shameful that President Trump is extinguishing that light.”
Syrian families are desperately seeking safety from the ravages of civil war, Langevin said, and denying them entry “goes against who we are as Americans, as does favoring one religion over another. There has never been and never should be a religious litmus test to enter the United States. Refugees from Syria and other Muslim-majority countries – many of them women and children – are facing unspeakable violence and destruction. … To turn our backs to their suffering is contrary to the very core principles of our democracy.”