February 8, 2017

Local Resistance to Immigration Ban Continues

A rally “Against the Muslim Ban and Bigotry,” co-sponsored by The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), took place on the steps of the Trenton City Hall Monday, as federal courts, which had temporarily banned the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order, considered the federal government’s appeals against their ruling.

Meanwhile local institutions, groups, and individuals continue to express their concern and to take action to support vulnerable individuals.

The final decision on the legality of Mr. Trump’s executive order, closing U.S. borders to immigrants and others from seven majority С Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world, may eventually be made by the Supreme Court.

Monday’s rally drew a diverse group of about 250 “energetic and passionate” participants, according to Reverend Robert Moore, executive director of the CFPA. In addition to Mr. Moore, speakers included Muslim leaders, Hispanic community leaders, and a Lutheran minister who is the grandson of two Holocaust survivors.

Noting the “strong sense of unity” in opposition to the Muslim ban, which he described as un-American and contradictory to the country’s core values, Mr. Moore added that the president’s measures are also counterproductive to fighting terrorism. “If the president and his advisers see this as a war against Islam, they’re actually driving away people who have been our main allies in fighting terrorism. This directive actually makes us less safe.”

He continued, “We have to keep speaking up. I’m heartened by this grassroots movement. I felt blessed to be there, part of the beloved community that Dr. King envisioned. It’s what gives me hope.”

Last Thursday, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber joined 47 other American college and university presidents in signing a letter to President Trump, urging him “to rectify or rescind the recent executive order.” Initially drafted by Mr. Eisgruber and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, the
letter warned that “the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.”

Decrying the targeting of seven Muslim countries and emphasizing the “value of religious diversity that has been a hallmark of American freedom since this country’s founding,” the college heads went on to state, “The order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses.

“American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning, added to our prosperity, and enriched our culture. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy. America’s educational, scientific, economic, and artistic leadership depends upon our continued ability to attract the extraordinary people who for many generations have come to this country in search of freedom and a better life.”

The letter concluded, “Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world. It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.”

This letter followed one that Mr. Eisgruber sent out ten days ago to the Princeton University community in which he criticized the executive orders and emphasized the university’s vigorous support for “individuals of diverse nationalities and faiths.”

At the Institute for Advanced Study, a group of some 50 faculty members and trustees followed up on Director Robbert Dijkgraaf’s statement of last week to “condemn and oppose the recent federal order. It unnecessarily and unfairly impedes scholars, students and more generally individuals and families, in particular those fleeing persecution, from traveling to the United States.”

The faculty response continued, “It is contrary to the values of the international community to which we belong. We believe that the advancement of the sciences and humanities make no distinction — geographical, political, or religious — among people. We stand unified against the unjust and discriminatory restrictions of the executive order, and we are committed to doing everything we can within the limits of the law to protect and support those who are affected.”

Community organizations, including Human Services and the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Princeton Council, and Mayor Liz Lempert issued strong statements last week in opposition to the president’s orders on immigration, and in support of the Princeton community. They continue to seek ways to support the most vulnerable members of the community.