Oklahoma social justice/civil rights groups speak out against U.S. immigration ban
Several Oklahoma social justice and civil rights groups are expressing opposition to the U.S. ban on immigration that President Trump imposed on Friday via executive order. Many specifically expressed concern that the ban in effect targets Muslims.
Here are the groups' statements:
Veronica Laizure, civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma chapter: We must remember that these policies are an echo of a darker time in American history when we demonized Japanese-American citizens because of their ethnic background and turned away needy Jewish refugees out of fear and suspicion. These executive orders are the continuation of a policy that is Islamophobic, xenophobic, and bigoted, and they do not make our country safer; rather, they marginalize our Muslim neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family, and do not reflect our nation's values of religious and ethnic inclusion.
Moises Echeverria, president and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice (OCCJ): In a time of greater divide, it is important to remember the principles and values which have made our community and nation a place of opportunity and refuge for many. Emma Lazarus captured so eloquently the compassion and selflessness which we strive to emulate, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . .' We urge leaders of our state and nation to consider the countless lives who will be negatively impacted by measures which aim to turn our backs on the most vulnerable.
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Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma: Banning Muslim refugees and immigrants from entering our nation is cruel, dangerous and unconstitutional. The United States has long prided itself as a haven for people seeking help. Refugees fleeing war and oppression are looking for a safety in American democracy. Turning away from the world's most immediately vulnerable recalls dark periods in our nation's history and is surely not the message we wish to send to suffering citizens of our own country or of the world.
Chelsey Branham, director of social and economic justice at the YWCA of Oklahoma City: YWCA Oklahoma City is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, and has been a long-time, proud partner with CAIR Oklahoma. They have supported our organization in a multitude of ways from donations of food and clothing for women and children in our program, to volunteering and attending our educational events. We are a much stronger organization because of their dedicated support. It is imperative that as we fight systemic and institutional oppression, that we work together and reinforce efforts to stem the tide of hate and oppression impacting Oklahomans. We will continue to support CAIR as we all stand for a just and equitable society.
Rabbi Abby Jacobson, president of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma: We are a nation predominantly of immigrants, with each new wave of immigrants bringing new ideas, innovations, and energy to American industry and culture. They have added to the labor pool, and have become job-creators and investors in our society. The words on the Statue of Liberty remind us to provide safe harbor and a new home to these immigrants from war-torn countries. Few of us really can understand how devastated their lives have been. By standing up for these new immigrants, you/we will also be standing up for the values on which our country has stood for generations. We urge President Trump to refrain from his plans to stop their acceptance to our country, and we urge our legislators of both parties to resist this action against Syrian refugees in particular, and Muslim refugees from other nations.
Arturo Delgado, board member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC): Building a wall is not the solution to the problem of undocumented immigration into this country - it costs money that we don't have, and there are still methods of entering the country without documents. Immigration from Mexico is actually decreasing, contrary to what President Trump's rhetoric might have you believe. This action does not increase our safety, and it's not where we should be focusing our efforts.