Hot Topic: Readers react to president’s controversial immigration order

  • President Donald Trump holds up a signed Presidential Memorandum in the Oval Office in Washington on Saturday. AP

  • A Syrian boy eats bread as he waits in line with his mother as hundreds of Syrian families wait to register at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday. AP

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, which created chaos at airports and spurred protests around the world. Here are some of the reactions from readers:

Don’t extinguish hope

I am writing to express my outrage and dismay at President Trump’s executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, and to suspend the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

Tens of millions of innocent children, women and men will be affected by this ban. For many of them, trying desperately to escape political unrest in their own countries, coming to the United States is their only hope of escaping a dire situation, and possibly even death. For others, who are simply carrying on with their lives as citizens of the world studying or working in the United States, they will be punished collectively, and irreparably, for the actions of a few.

Our country has been a beacon of hope for the downtrodden for two centuries. We must not allow President Trump to extinguish that hope now and end our proud tradition of tolerance and acceptance. We are better than this.



Cruel and unnecessary

On Jan. 27, President Trump halted the resettlement of refugees to the United States for (at least) 120 days, and cut the 2017 refugee resettlement program by half – if it ever resumes. With a stroke of the pen, he turned his back on some of the world’s neediest, and most deserving, people.

President Trump, I am assuming, has never visited a refugee camp. Empathy not being one of his defining characteristics, he probably cannot imagine what it is like to live in one. But as president, he ought to be aware that resettled refugees are already the most carefully scrutinized entrants to the United States. I know this from experience.

I worked for the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, for 32 years, running large refugee programs. Candidates for resettlement are first screened by UNHCR. A select few are referred to the U.S. for possible resettlement. American officials interview them, sometimes multiple times, to decide if they meet the very restrictive U.S. eligibility criteria. If so, these refugees move on to security screening by a multitude of U.S. agencies and finally, medical screening. The process can take years.

Only a handful of the world’s refugees get a chance to resettle in the United States. They are already subject to rigorous vetting. To slam the door on them is cruel and unnecessary. If you can imagine how it feels to be a refugee, I appeal to you to stand up and be counted. We need to show the Trump administration that we care.



Muslims and liberty

American Muslims, as a whole, are more attuned to the Bill of Rights, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the ethics of liberty than evangelical Christians and other right-leaning sects. In 2015, Pew released the findings of another Religious Landscape Study. Over 35,000 Americans participated. It turns out evangelicals are more hostile to the principles of liberty than American Muslims.

Just 36 percent of evangelicals accept LGBT people in American society while 45 percent of American Muslims do. On accepting same-sex marriage, only 28 percent of evangelicals do while 42 percent of American Muslims do. American Muslims are also more supportive of reproductive rights. Just 33 percent of evangelicals believe abortion should be legal. With American Muslims, it’s 55 percent.

What percentage think having women in the workplace is a change for the better? With Christian evangelicals it’s 55 percent and with American Muslims, it’s 67 percent. All Christians came up short of American Muslims at 64 percent.

Only 38 percent of evangelicals accept evolution, while 53 percent of America’s Muslims do. When asked if stricter environmental regulations were worth the cost, 45 percent of evangelicals said yes while 67 percent of American Muslims agreed.

When asked about government aid to the poor, 56 percent of evangelicals said it does more harm than good. Only 30 percent of American Muslims agreed. When asked about their political views, 72 percent of American Muslims considered themselves moderate or liberal. With evangelicals, it was 40 percent. With all Christians the figure was 50 percent.



Elections have

President Trump’s order banning Muslim immigrants and refugees affected those arriving at many airports Saturday. Two New York Democratic congressional representatives showed up at New York’s Kennedy Airport to help one Iraqi scientist, headed to Boston, get through customs. Two others were having trouble getting through also.

As would be expected, the protesters were there with their signs. It seems there must be a phone number to call and get protesters to show up on very short notice. Could this be a yellow page entry in the future?

At Dulles International Airport, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Virginia Democrat, stood in front of protesters’ signs and stated “discrimination breeds hate.” Is it too much to ask Democrats for some cooperation as our new president does exactly as he campaigned, to take necessary measures to keep Americans safe. How much more can the radical Islamist terrorists hate us? They already take every opportunity to kill, maim and behead Christians and anyone else that stands in their way of world domination. Elections have consequences. Remember that.

David Sandoe


Not my America

I sent this letter to our president. I hope 3 million to 5 million more do the same.

Dear Mr. President: I must assume that you have never actually been to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. If you have, perhaps you never read the words inscribed on the bottom of the statue, words that have stood for the essence of America throughout the world for decades.

I send these words to you today for you to reflect upon.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send me these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.”

Today, I am ashamed to call myself American. Today, I am ashamed of my country. Today, I am ashamed of the office of the presidency. Today, this America that you embrace is not the America of past generations. It is not the America of goodness and greatness.

It is an America that is petty and evil and selfish. It is an America that will not lead as an example of human decency.

This is your America, Mr. President, but it is not mine.



What are we?

There has been one benefit from this divisive, gut-wrenching election: It’s forced us to search our souls for what it means to be an American.

Do we divide, or do we unite? Do we appreciate our differences, or do we fear and abhor them? Do we label and categorize others, or do we engage them and seek to understand them? Do we build a fence to keep others out, or a gateway to let them in? Do we suspect the worst, or look for the best? Do we see the achievements of others, or only of our own? Do we act out of fear, or out of empathy?

Do we hold out our hand in welcome, or do we turn our backs?



Speak out and act

When I heard about the president’s executive order banning refugees from entering the country for 120 days and not allowing anyone into the country from certain countries (if he can do this for 120 days, how many times might he repeat this action?), I was reminded of this quote from Martin Niemoller (a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps).

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

It is time for everyone to speak out and act. In my heart I believe this executive order is the antithesis of what we should be doing in our country to address terrorism.

I believe it will only further stoke the fires that create terrorists.



It’s up to us

Maybe you agree with some or all of the blizzard of nominations, executive actions, directives and remarks from the new administration.

That’s how it works here in the U.S.: We have our different opinions and are free to try to advance them.

But, I don’t think this is the usual partisan divide in which, behind our differences, we are united in allegiance to our Constitution and our common credo “liberty and justice for all.”

Most Republicans, Democrats and independents share the hope of generations of Americans to be a city on the hill to the rest of the world. And, the Statue of Liberty, welcoming the tired, the poor, those yearning to breathe free, and protecting them, wherever possible, at home and abroad, is an icon for us all because she represents all our stories and aspirations for a better life.

It feels to me like we’re all being snowed by a very deliberate and strategic attempt to distract and divide us. Bannon and company are throwing “bread and circuses” while quickly dismantling rights, the rule of law, safety nets, environmental protection and international cooperation.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.”

Abraham Lincoln said, we can “nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

It’s up to “we the people.”

Anne Bonaparte-Krogh


Stop the madness

All Americans should speak out in opposition to President Trump’s fundamentally un-American executive order signed on Friday banning travel from several Muslim-majority countries and restricting the resettlement here of refugees from war-torn nations.

Not only is it contrary to our long-held values of freedom and liberty, inscribed on everything from our founding documents to the Statue of Liberty, it is contrary to our very own safety.

As Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have said: “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

The former chief of the CIA’s Near East division, Robert Richer, calls it a “strategic mistake” and “a win for jihadists and other anti-U.S. forces.”

With his executive order, President Trump is unilaterally attacking our American values and our safety. The president is ignoring the advice of level-headed policy experts and allowing policy to be written by xenophobic zealots. Contrary to his self-aggrandizing and delusional statements that implementation of the executive order is going smoothly, that implementation has wreaked havoc in the lives of several families who have legally gained the right to travel or seek refuge here.

Furthermore, it has sparked a constitutional crisis as at least four federal judges have (bravely) issued rulings temporarily halting its implementation. This madness needs to stop, right now, before this country slips further into the chaos the president and his close circle of advisers seem to desire.



How to be great again

During his campaign, Donald Trump and his supporters liked to talk about making America “great.” His actions as our president thus far have caused me to reflect on why America is great in the first place.

My sense of American greatness was formed in elementary school history classes, when I learned: that America was founded by people seeking freedom to worship and speak as they wanted, not as decreed by a monarch; that our nation fought a war with itself to end slavery and enshrined the president who led that fight for good in a monument in our capital; that we mobilized and sacrificed as a nation to fight in two world wars to preserve the liberties of our own citizens but also those of other nations; that we have progressed (if imperfectly) toward our goal of liberty and justice for all through the women’s suffrage and Civil Rights movements; that we are a nation of immigrants that offers hope and opportunity to the “tired . . . poor . . . huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

President Trump’s words and actions trample and spit on this history. Far from “great,” his wall, deportation force, and Muslim and refugee ban reflect a shrunken and cowardly America, one that projects fear and prejudice, not confidence and opportunity. What will truly make America great again is for us to show the world that we the people will stand up and reject Trump’s un-American values.



Well covered

I commend the Monitor for Monday’s coverage of Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration from seven Muslim countries, particularly the local response in New Hampshire.

I also admired your story’s headline, “Order creates chaos.” It sums up perfectly what happened in airports across the country. A better headline could not be found in the Boston Globe, the Valley News or the New York Times.

Thanks for the good reporting.

Stephen Enroth


Bombs away

No foreign terrorist could have created more chaos in the U.S. than Donald J. Trump did last week. Throwing executive orders like Molotov cocktails, Trump ended the week with an order for a 90-day ban on immigration from seven Muslim countries, a 120-day suspension of refugee programs and limiting the number of refugees entering the U. S. in 2017 to 50,000.

In 2016, Canada, with little more than 10 percent of the U.S. population, accepted nearly 40,000 refugees fleeing Syria, a country singled out by Trump’s executive order. No U.S. visas will be issued to Syrian nationals and no Syrian refugees will be accepted here. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has, however, invited refugees rejected by the U.S. to settle in Canada. It seems that we must now rely on our humane neighbor to protect our traditional values.

U.S. allies have roundly condemned Trump’s ban while several extremist groups and ISIS fighters have hailed Trump’s order as a victory. In a joint statement, Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain concluded, “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”

What bombs will Trump deliver in
Week 2?


Center Sandwich

Plight of refugees

I recently attended a meet and greet at the International Institute of New England at its small office on Elm Street. The standing-room-only audience listened attentively as Manchester Site Director Amadou Hamady and his staff explained how they find and set up apartments for refugees, meet them at the airport, teach them English, help them adjust to our culture, teach them job skills and help them find employment.

Mr. Hamady repeatedly expressed how supportive the Manchester community has been in resettling refugees and how thankful his staff and the refugee community are for this support.

As part of the presentation, a young doctor, who arrived in the U.S. from the Congo last year, told us, in broken but understandable English, of the brutal treatment and atrocities by rebels and soldiers toward him, his family and hundreds of others. Many in the audience wept along with this man as he ended by saying he did not know the fate of his wife and four children. You can imagine the astonishment and sadness in the room when it was announced that President Trump had ordered a stop to refugee resettlement for four months.

Mr. Hamady said the International Institute will continue to work with refugees they are already working with and will prepare for the reopening of the refugee program in the near future.

Corrie Cockrell


Refreshing change

We are so happy to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren screaming that President Trump’s executive orders regarding immigration are unconstitutional, Sen. Chuck Schumer crying over Trump’s “mean spirited” immigration ban, and the media and many celebrity Democratic supporters verbally expressing illogical, unfounded, untruthful, profane and dangerous thoughts for all to hear and see.

It’s like a commercial for whom not to vote for.

We know that narcissists never blame themselves. We know that you are incapable of examining your own behavior, errors and lies – and it is hilarious. Keep blaming everyone and everything else.

We know that you don’t respect us or believe us and that you think we are all stupid and can be controlled by you, celebrities and the media. Keep underestimating us. We love it because it motivates us. We are mostly silent, because that is what we do.

That is what we did in this past election cycle. Your “pollsters” and opposition media should all find new jobs.

We do not want open borders. We know that illegal immigrants and refugees are not protected by our Constitution. Our great Constitution only protects legal U.S. citizens. We want the wall to stop deadly drugs. We want extreme vetting. We want a strong military and law enforcement. We do not want immigrants from other countries bringing their extreme ideology here. Immigration without assimilation is an invasion.

Our country, our legal citizens should be your first priority – jobs, educational choice and safety. Nation building starts here, not there.

Keep lying, as if what Trump has said and done is new. Google President Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union immigration comments.

President Trump is everyone’s president, and the first to keep his promises and use social media in advantageous ways. How unique and refreshing.



Bowing to Trump

So Gov. Chris “Scaredy-Cat” Sununu is “monitoring” Trump’s decision to erode the U.S. Constitution. What leadership! Boy, that makes me feel secure.



Price of change

President Trump’s executive order freezing immigrant entry to the United States is disturbing on several levels. The offered rationale is national security but the national security apparatus apparently was not involved until after the order was issued. That fact is significant in gauging the substance of the order and the process followed in issuing it.

Others are addressing the legal and humanitarian problems raised by the substance of the president’s action. Equally troubling is the process and the attitude that produced it. The consequences of the order will be revealed as events unfold. One of those consequences is already apparent. As a result of this action, the nation is less unified than it was before the order was issued and this notwithstanding the president’s pledge to bring us together.

How did this happen? Assuming the president and his advisers did not intend to drive the nation further apart, there must have been a failure to consider all the consequences of issuing such an order. I am troubled but not surprised, by the “business” approach reflected throughout the president’s actions. The president’s own experience and that of those he has appointed and brought into his personal camp is almost exclusively from a universe in which the focus is narrow. President Trump has said he is smart and that he consults before deciding. For some reason that has not always served him well.

Unfortunately, social responsibility has all but disappeared in decision-making by large corporations. Making money as fast as possible is the overwhelming force at work.

Decision-makers coming from that culture are not likely to instinctively try to balance competing interests. Hopefully the Trump team can learn to do so before too much harm is inflicted.

That brings me back to the executive order on immigration.

The White House felt no need to consult or even carefully explain the order and how it would work. Was this the “corporate” mentality at work? The CEO commands an action and the junior corporate officers are charged with working it out. But in government, especially the national government, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Those considerations are practical concerns about implementation, image concerns about public perception and in this case, international concerns about foreign relations and national security.

Our president takes some pride in being the proverbial “bull in the china shop.” Those who supported him wanted change. President Trump has delivered change, but at what cost?



Exploiting fear

One of the first things I learned in school when I was growing up was about the terrible mistakes we made in the 1930s and 1940s, because we were afraid of people who were different from us.

I learned about the cruel and useless confinement of Japanese Americans in internment camps; about our failure to open our borders to Jews who were fleeing the Nazi Holocaust.

We look back on those mistakes now as foolish and shameful.

I never thought we’d be making those mistakes so soon again.

I am ashamed today to see fear is being exploited to reinforce hatred and cruelty.



Faith connections

The divisive rhetoric of the Trump campaign prompted my husband and me to learn more about the Muslim community in our country.

We have learned much from the writings of Robert Azzi in the Monitor and will depend on his insight during the troubled times ahead. Also helpful was attending a prayer service at a mosque in Concord a few weeks after the election.

We were warmly greeted by the Islamic Society of Greater Concord president, Hubert Mask, and his wife, Faizah, and other members. Connecting with people of another faith and heritage is becoming more important everyday.



Let your voice
be heard

For the last several weeks I have been listening and watching, trying to absorb all that is emanating from Washington, from this new administration. All that I have observed thus far makes me sad beyond words.

However, I cannot and will not grieve because that suggests permanence and the absence of hope. A world without hope is unimaginable to me.

I am neither a lawyer or, much less, a constitutional scholar, but this much is clear to me. I have always believed that one of the most remarkable aspects of our shared American life is the existence of a Constitution that reflects the foundational values of who we are as a nation, and our purpose as a dynamic culture and civilization.

Yes, of course, interpretative debates periodically rage at the intersection of an ageing document and a society that is perpetually dynamic and evolving.

Please, correct me if I am wrong, but I have always believed that central to every constitutional debate is the promulgation of core principles, such as fairness and justice.

However, when truths are hijacked by “alternative facts,” when these same principles implicit to constitutional guarantees and protections are set aside for ill-considered political expediency, this is so much more than a polite (or even heated) disagreement between rational individuals advocating for nuanced gradations around the political “center.”

Remain engaged. Remember to breathe. But let your voice(s) be heard!




First, they came for the Muslims. Then they came . . .

Who will be next? When will it be your turn?