By Darwin Campbell
“You don’t know me but I’m your brother I was raised here in this living Hell You don’t know my kind in your world Fairly soon, the time will tell You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see… Take this message to my brother You will find him everywhere Wherever people live together Tied in poverty’s despair You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see Takin’ it to the streets Takin’ it to the streets Takin’ it to the streets Takin’ it to the streets – Doobie Brothers, 1976
HOUSTON – Opposition to the work of President Donald Trump has recreated a new wave of civil disobedience that dates back to the 1960s, when Blacks were fighting for Civil Rights. The resurgence of the protests is due in part to the latest Executive Actions by President Trump that many Democrats see as an outright attack on the thousands of refugees and others seeking political asylum in the United States and also the growing Muslim population in communities across America.
“Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded has been stomped upon,” New York Senator and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Facebook January 28. “Taking in immigrants and refugees is not only humanitarian but has also boosted our economy and created jobs decade after decade. This is one of the most backward and nasty executive orders that the president has issued.”
Schumer’s disdain has had a ripple effect and is now being shared and followed up with sharp words and powerful rhetoric being repeated throughout the hallowed halls of Congress and now are spilling over into the streets of the Lone Star State and to boroughs and boulevards in every major American city. Young and old alike are rising up to cry out for justice and a legal reversal of policies they say fly in the face of American-styled Democracy.
President Trump’s executive order creating the latest concerns involves blocking refugees and all visitors from some countries.
These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments.
The president, in this order, has also blocked entry by any Syrian refugee indefinitely and has frozen entry for most other refugees (the Refugee Admissions Program) for 120 days. It allegedly gives the new administration more time to improve the vetting process, make the country safer and then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year.
Additionally, Mr. Trump put a 90-day freeze on entry by people whose countries are currently considered high terrorism risks. Currently those countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The order does not specify whether green card holders should be affected, though that is how the Department of Homeland Security is enforcing the order. The order says that on a case-by-case basis, officials can allow in some refugees, including those who are religious minorities in their countries.
Former president Barack Obama has ‘fundamentally disagreed with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith and religion.’
According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) latest statistics, there are approximately 21.3 million refugees in the world.
According to the United States State Department, since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world. Many refugees have built new lives, homes and communities in towns and cities in all 50 states. Opposition to Flawed Policy District 9 Congressman Al Green is one who is not mincing words in blasting Trump for policies he declares are both anti-refugee and anti-Muslim.
“Incendiary branding, invidious bans, and tall walls will not make America great,” Green said. “Incendiary branding (unjustly defining people negatively) usually precedes onerous deeds. Labeling Mexicans as ‘criminals, drug-dealers, [and] rapists’ was the incendiary branding that preceded the onerous call for a tall wall to protect us (the U.S.) from Mexicans. Labeling Islam (one of the world’s great religions) as ‘radical Islam’ was the onerous, incendiary branding that preceded the invidious ban of people from predominantly Islamic countries.”
Green’s strong words have not fallen on deaf ears.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat and Texas Congresswoman from Texas’s 18th Congressional District, has acted and introduced the USA Values Act to Protect Religious Liberty and Stop Trump Administration From Denying Humanitarian Relief To Refugees Lawfully Entitled to Enter The United States. If approved, the measure would invalidate the discriminatory Executive Order issued by the President banning visitors and refugees from certain countries from entering the United States simply because they exercise their right to religious liberty by adherence to the Muslim faith.
The USA Values Act, which affirms the nation’s core values, complements the ‘Statute of Liberty Values Act’ (SOLVE Act), which bars ethnic and religious discrimination against refugees. It was also introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, and sponsored by Jackson Lee and more than 125 Members of the House.
“I have introduced the USA Values Act (H.R. 735), which will invalidate the President’s discriminatory Executive Order, which has the effect and intent of excluding persons whose religious faith is Muslim from entering the United States,” she said. “My USA Values Act affirms our nation’s core beliefs regarding religious freedom and equal protection and treatment under law.”
Jackson Lee is currently a senior member of the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees.
Thousands of protesters recently lined public entrance areas of Hobby International, Bush Intercontinental Airports and downtown in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center to protest and express their distaste and growing opposition to the presidential order against refugees and alleged discrimination against Muslims.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called for calm, but made all aware that his city welcomes all and will not discriminate or treat anyone unfairly or unjustly.
In a statement to the city and community from his Facebook page, Turner said. “There is a lot of anxiety in our City regarding the Trump Administration’s policy on immigration. I would urge the Administration to rethink its Executive Order,” he states. “Houston has always been and will continue to be a welcoming City. Our diversity is an asset and our strength. And as your Mayor, I represent every Houstonian. This is my Executive Order: in this City we shall love, respect and appreciate everyone regardless of their differences and we shall do it peacefully. In this City, we don’t build walls; we build relationships. We don’t separate families; we value them. We don’t hate; we love. And let me be very clear, these tweets on the Admin’s EO, the City’s diversity and what we value are mine and not my staff. I join other Mayor’s from across the nation to declare support for immigrant and refugee communities.”
On Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin, participants walked up to the south steps of the Capitol and were surrounded by a massive human circle made up of about 1,000 supporters looking to ensure the event went off safely. “Civic engagement … it is not just a privilege. It is God-given privilege, and it’s also a blessing and our duty to participate,” Sarwat Hussain, President of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the crowd gathered for the biennial advocacy day. “Lately, we have seen some demonstrations against us. That is not going to stop us at all.”
According to Jackson Lee, arbitrarily excluding Muslim visitors to our country will not make us safer and makes a mockery of our reputation as the world’s most welcoming nation. “The former president is right, the current president is wrong and I call upon the President to rescind this discriminatory order immediately,” she said.“As Americans we are best when we are true to the values we hold dear, beginning with fidelity to the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
She also noted that the executive order, which represents the President’s attempt to make good on his pledge to impose a ban on Muslims from entering our country, is a radical departure from the values, principles, and practices that heretofore have made America the envy of the world.
The vast majority of these refugees will receive support in the country to which they fled until they can voluntarily and safely return to their home country. A small number of refugees will be allowed to become citizens in the country to which they fled, and an even smaller number — primarily those who are at the highest risk — will be resettled in a third country. While UNHCR reports that less than 1 percent of all refugees are eventually resettled in third countries, the United States welcomes almost two-thirds of these refugees, more than all other resettlement countries combined. According to the department, the U. S. is proud of its history of welcoming immigrants and refugees and that the U.S. refugee resettlement program reflects the United States’ highest values and aspirations to compassion, generosity and leadership.
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Jackson Lee is also calling upon the President to heed the counsel of Texas Impact, urging him to reaffirm the nation’s commitment to welcome those displaced by oppression and injustice. According to Lee, the president should set an example for states to follow by refraining from statements and actions designed to frighten and divide our people. “Texas became the second most populous state, and Houston the nation’s fourth largest and most diverse city, by welcoming persons of all backgrounds and cultures, races and creeds, religions and ethnicities, particularly those fleeing religious persecution and political oppression,” she added.
“The United States of America is a country founded by persons escaping religious persecution and freedom of worship has been a bedrock national value since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. It is no coincidence that the first of the amendments comprising the Bill of Rights protects inviolate the free exercise of religion.” Continuing the historical reflection, Green added that if the history of the country did not brand the KKK, a self-proclaimed Christian group, as a representation of Christianity, then we should not brand a group of hatemongers and murderers as a representation of Islam.
“When we do this, we allow hate to claim a larger platform,” Green said. “Making real our great American ideals is what makes America great: the great American ideal of liberty and justice for all as extolled in the Pledge of Allegiance, the great American ideal of all persons being created equal as exalted in the Declaration of Independence, the great American ideal of welcoming the ‘huddled masses yearning to be free’ as evoked by the Statue of Liberty are hallmarks of America’s greatness.” Incendiary branding, invidious bans, and tall walls will not make America great, Green added.