CINCINNATI — The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other community groups “representing immigrant and justice issues” gathered Thursday to publicly condemn President Donald Trump's upcoming executive orders.
A draft executive order obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday showed that Trump intends to stop accepting Syrian refugees and will suspend the United States' broader refugee program for 120 days. Trump also plans to suspend issuing visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for at least 30 days, according to the draft. All are predominantly Muslim countries.
CAIR Executive Director Karen Dabdoub said her organization is concerned by rising bigotry and occurrence of hate crimes locally and nationally.
“We don’t have first- and second-class American citizenship —you’re either a citizen or you’re not, whether you were born (here) or naturalized, and we can’t start differentiating people based on race or ethnicity or religion,” Dabdoub said. “That’s a very dangerous road that I don’t think any of us want to go down."
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Dabdoub said she’s appalled that the United States could start turning away refugee families fleeing war even after they’ve completed the often two-year-long process to obtain visas.
“It’s unbelieve the amount of information and proof that they have to provide,” Dabdoub said. Most refugees are families with children … and by turning them back we’re condemning them. We’re putting them back in harm’s way by refusing to allow them entry.”
Both Dabdoub and Kazuya Sato, president of Cincinnati’s Japanese-American Citizens League, said they fear a repeat of the 1940s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during World War II.
Religious leaders from Cincinnati’s unitarian universalist community expressed their disappointment with Trump’s actions, while Amy Schlag, director of the LGBTQ Center at the University of Cincinnati, promised support from the educational community.
"Right now, they have a place at our university and in our center. That will always be a place of refuge and safety for any student on our campus,” Schlag said.