In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Donald Trump walks in the footsteps of Nazi Germany’s dictator Adolf Hitler to bring the past to life; he omits any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism from his statement and signs an Executive Order (EO) to suspend Muslims from entering the U.S. — including immigration and visas — from Mideast and North African countries “tied to terrorism.”
Was it a coincidence that both incidents took place on the same day? Trump is making a statement. For more than two years now, and throughout his shameful, hateful, and xenophobic political campaign, he has been persistent in his calls for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” to combat terrorism.
The irony is that for every life claimed by terrorism on U.S. soil (or where Americans abroad were killed by terrorists), more than 1,000 died from firearms inside the U.S. Is he going to issue an EO to suspend guns from entering the U.S.?
“The refugees impacted by today’s decision are among the world’s most vulnerable people — women, children, and men who are simply trying to find a safe place to live after fleeing unfathomable violence and loss.”
Responding to this ban on Muslims, President of Oxfam America, Raymond Offenheiser released a powerful statement today, vehemently condemning what he deemed a “harmful and discriminatory” EO, and “an injustice.”
“The refugees impacted by today’s decision are among the world’s most vulnerable people — women, children, and men who are simply trying to find a safe place to live after fleeing unfathomable violence and loss. Instead of affirming the values of the United States by granting safety and protection to refugees, President Trump has broken with more than 40 years of bipartisan American policy — and over 200 years of American tradition — by slamming the door on innocent people in their hour of need,” Offenheiser said.
Delving deeper into the statement’s content and intent, Muslim Girl discussed a few issues with Oxfam’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor Noah Gottschalk, whose work is focused on promoting the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants affected by conflict in Sudan, Syria, and elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East.
Muslim Girl: What are the chances of Trump revoking this shameful EO?
Noah Gottschalk: I think that we have to be realistic about the chances of this president reversing course. But I think there are reasons for hope. As I scroll the news on a daily basis, I hear actions and statements he’s made that he’s reversed…he reversed his decision to cancel all Obamacare outreach.
This is a smaller issue compared to the ban, but these changes are happening, and he needs to feel this pressure. One thing we told our lawmakers and officials time and time again is that all refugees are welcome in 49 states. Communities in red and blue states are working with refugees in churches, synagogues, and mosques…there’s nothing more American than this, and he needs to hear that.
Don’t you think this call for Trump to rethink his decision is “too little too late?” The ban has been one of the powerful tools for him to win the elections, why now and not then?
I don’t think it’s ever too late. What made it difficult for people to organize is that the calls he made during the campaign were blatantly unconstitutional that it almost seemed unnecessary to reject, because they are against what America stands for.
“The calls he made during the campaign were blatantly unconstitutional that it’s almost unnecessary to reject, because they are against what America stands for.”
Now, we need to see and talk to our elected officials on the legality of the situation. I think he’s sensitive to pressure and criticism. We have to keep fighting.
Is there any organizing or strategizing on OxFam’s behalf to challenge the EO?
Working with a collation of dozens of organizations, national and international organizations to fight this on every front, colleagues are posing legal challenges. We are not going to rest until this changes. In the meantime, we are trying to inform affected communities who have lots of questions — and just the fact this EO has so many uncertainties in the text is leaving many people in limbo, including people with dual citizenship.
The statement says, “both the intent and the outcome of the Executive Order is blatant discrimination against Muslims,” yet the list of countries in the EO are not the only “Muslim” countries. Why those specifically?
Not that we’re happy with this outcome, but this is an example of changing outcomes after there was a massive outcry about a total Muslim ban, with Trump thinking that perhaps there’s less interest in these countries. People have pointed out that none of the countries where 9/11 hijackers came from are represented on the list; and that’s not to say that we want these countries in the list. But it’s fair to say — especially if we don’t push back — more countries are only going to be added in the future. I don’t think there is any space for us to rest. People who care need to be acting.
How can they be acting?
Every single person should call their congress member, in both their local district and Washington D.C. offices and tell them that they want to see action from Congress. This is a constitutional issue. What we know is that members of congress are sensitive to phone calls, emails, and conversations. Nothing is more influential than picking up the phone and having a conversation. It won’t take a minute of your time. It’s impactful and we heard cases of congressmen changing their minds when receiving fewer than 100 calls. It doesn’t need to be millions.
The U.S. government supports military intervention in the region and then bans the victims of such militarization from fleeing violence and torture. Comments?
The reality is, as important as refugee resettlement is, it’s only a solution for fewer than 1% of refugees. Lots had the opportunity to come to the U.S., but the overwhelming number of refugees are hosted by neighboring countries in the region.
“Nothing is more influential than picking up the phone and having a conversation. It won’t take a minute of your time.”
This EO is devastating and sends horrible messages. But there is another EO that would cut funds from the U.N. and international organizations. At the same time, we’re pushing back on this EO that’s been signed. We need to push back on others, so that people can find some sort of support in the region.
Anything else you would like to add?
People and communities affected by this need to stand together right now, and they’re supported by brothers and sisters from every community in this country. I am Jewish, and most of my family was killed in the holocaust. What the president has done is a complete slap in the face for the memory of my family, and we don’t want to see this happening to any Muslim or Jew or any other member of any faith or community.
I salute Oxfam for having such fierce leadership. Let us stand together in the face of injustice. Let us not allow the crimes of history get repeated. Please take action. #NoBanNoWall.
To read the complete Oxfam statement, click here.
To access MuslimGirl’s “Muslim Ban Guidebook” for more resources and links, click here.