Maine immigrant leaders blast Trump’s new Muslim ban

Maine immigrant leaders blast Trump’s new Muslim ban

Maine immigrants and civil rights advocates are calling the new immigration order released by the Trump administration on Monday both unjust and unconstitutional.

The Executive Order, which is written to go into effect on March 16th, implements a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The order also suspends the nation’s refugee program for 120 days and reduces the number of refugees allowed to enter the country from  110,000 to 50,000.

“I and my family came to this country from Somalia decades ago fleeing civil war,” said Abdi Ahmed, a Lewiston resident who serves on the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition (MIRC) Governance Committee. “I am a business owner and pharmacist, and my family members include teachers and business leaders. We are proud of the contributions we make to our communities here in the United States, and it pains us to be targeted for discrimination in this way.”

Maine has approximately 12,500 African immigrants, including refugees from Somalia and Sudan, according to the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. Many of the refugees who have been resettled in Maine in recent years have fled war or genocide in their home countries. They sought safety in neighboring countries and refugee status through the United Nations before being placed in refugee camps to await resettlement in another country. Many of them waited years, and in some cases decades, to be resettled.

“I am proud to have started an amazing nonprofit that works to end violence against women, and I am proud to have raised my children as Americans. My daughters attend school at Georgetown and Swarthmore,” said Fatuma Hussein, executive director of Immigrant Resource Center of Maine and member of MIRC, who came to the United States in 1993.  “It hurts my heart for the country that I love to reject me and my family with this Muslim ban, which will keep others from Somalia from finding opportunity in America.”

The new order was written after a legal challenge to Trump’s first immigration ban prevented it from being implemented. The American Civil Liberties Union has announced it will continue to fight the new order in court.

“Freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution, and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of how they look or how they choose to pray,” said Alison Beyea, executive director at the ACLU of Maine. “This revised order is still unconstitutional, and we will continue to challenge it in court.”

Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree also criticized the order, calling it “destructive” and “inhumane.”

“Over the weekend, we saw on Twitter how little President Trump relies on evidence to inform his snap decisions as Commander-in-Chief. His revised executive order banning refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority nations is another case of irrational judgment,” said Pingree.

Photo of Lewiston pro-immigrant rally via Jeff Kirlin.

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