Trump Remember: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

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People have been protesting since inauguration. Photo: Hakim Mutlaq

[Op-Ed]

On Friday January 27, 2017 President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia entry to the United States for at least 90 days and officials have hinted that this is the first step to what may be a broader ban in the future.

The executive order also bans admission of refugees for four months. There will be a total and indefinite ban of Syrian refugees. On the same day, addressing Ralph Reid’s Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference Trump declared America “a Judeo-Christian Nation-that is the way it is”.

These two actions by the president and his comments that he would favor Christian refugees betray either unforgivable ignorance of or a flagrant disregard for the Constitution which clearly stipulates in the very first sentence of the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

It is no surprise that this executive action occurred in the first week of his presidency. Trump on the campaign trail had called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US" which was then roundly condemned by his rivals among them presidential candidate Michael Pence who tweeted on Dec 8, 2015 “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional”.

Trump’s special advisors and strategists on national security matters are the openly Islamophobic Michael Flynn who called Islam a "vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people" and Steve Bannon

Christian leaders are nearly unanimous in their condemnation of the president’s actions and words. As a result of the executive order hundreds of travelers from the named majority-Muslim countries, including those with valid U.S. visas and Green Cards have been detained at airports across the nation.

Outraged Americans came out in large numbers at major airports around the country to protest the detentions. The ACLU went to court demanding the release of the detainees and a federal judge in Brooklyn ordered a temporary halt to the ban without ruling on its constitutionality; another federal court judge in Boston ruled that people with valid documents could enter the country.

The statue of Liberty holding the torch of freedom aloft, welcoming and reassuring with the comforting words “Give me your tired, your poor and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” speaks to the core values of a nation of immigrants, a beacon of hope to all, fleeing oppression, seeking freedom and a safe haven. The very idea of banning travelers from “majority Muslim countries” is inherently offensive in itself.

Trump and his entourage have made a mockery of our values trying to pit people of one faith or race against the other. It offends the basic decency and fairness of the American people. This callous action by the president is an assault on the First Amendment and contravenes the American and international laws and conventions governing the treatment of refugees and immigrants and should be resisted by all Americans who hold dear the laws and values of this nation.

Community and faith organizations, human right and civil rights advocates, women and labor organizations and immigrant advocacy groups need to come together to form a united front in resisting this Un-American and unconstitutional action by the President.

This is a defining moment in our history and our elected officials of whatever party affiliation should stand up to an imperious president and reassert the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.

It is going to be a hard and protracted struggle to reverse the executive order but justice, reason and common sense will prevail in the end and this too shall come to pass.

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