Below is a letter sent by email to Colorado’s Senators Bennet and Gardner and Congresswoman DeGette on January 30, 2017.
I’m writing today about President Trump’s executive action barring immigration from seven countries in the middle east, suspending the refugee admissions system, suspending the Syrian refugee program and lowering the total number of refugees the United States will accept.
The totality of this order is alarming, but particularly the complete ban on arrivals from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This overly vague order has barred legal residents of this country from entering it. This includes green card holders, people who are coming to our great country to work and build a life — maybe a better one than they left behind. The ban is also singles out these seven countries despite there being little evidence of any compelling national security interest.
The arguments from the president’s campaign and his supporters in Congress always said that those who were here, who waited in line, who filed their paperwork, should be allowed to stay. They came to our country, followed the law, and should be praised. These are precisely the people who were trying to get through airports on Saturday night — people who were returning to their jobs, their families, and their neighbors in Colorado and across the country. They have documents stamped in their passport or tucked into their wallets that grants them entry to do these jobs, to love these families, and to befriend these neighbors. Endowed in those documents is an agreement, with strict terms, about the terms and duration of their stay.
Immigrants to the United States go through one of the most rigorous application processes in the world. Refugees go through an even longer ordeal, they submit biometric data and identifying documents, undergo thorough security checks by the FBI, NCIC, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security — and that’s just the beginning. Refugees from Syria are fleeing terrorism, fleeing war, feeling corrupt government. Some of them arrived in the United States this weekend only to be told by our government: You are not welcome here.
Senator, I have a few questions for you about this travel ban:
- It’s been said these countries were on a list of places with connections to terrorism from the Obama administration. Why only these seven countries and not others with connections to terrorism in their region like Egypt, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia?
- What evidence do we have that rejecting refugees from these countries will make us demonstrably safer?
- Why has the State Department suddenly stopped honoring visas and green cards given to immigrants who filed their paperwork and waited sometimes years to get them?
- Will individuals with dual citizenship in these seven countries be bared from re-entry into the United States if they travel abroad?
More broadly, I hope that as you and your colleagues in Congress will consider what message this action sends to individuals from around the world who look to the United States as a land of opportunity. What message does this action send to the Mexican immigrant who has spent months and hundreds of dollars traveling back and forth from the U.S. consulate to complete paperwork for four month work visa? What message does it send to the next war-torn country where the best choice is to leave everything behind and seek safety abroad? What does it mean to see “Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” on the Statue of Liberty if you are sent right back home?
Thank you for taking the time to read this message, and for your service to the State of Colorado.