On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that contradicts everything our nation holds dear. The “Muslim Ban” severely restricts immigration from seven majority Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely. The order - which is grounded in Islamophobia and Xenophobia - also grants Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents “discretionary authority” to detain and question U.S. Citizens from the seven countries. In doing so, it is an invitation for racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.
Over the weekend, while defending his order, President Trump said there would be exceptions to his order and named persecuted Christians in the Middle East: “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue.” In doing so, he set up a clear preference for religion and stated in both words and policy that our nation values the lives of Christians over the lives of any other persecuted group around the world.
As an organization dedicated to justice and inclusion, NCCJ opposes this executive order and invites all those who believe in justice, inclusion and equity to do the same.
Since the moment this land became the United States of America, we have always struggled to live up to the creed laid out by our founders. We have never fully lived up to the ideals we hold as our core values - the belief that all people are created equal, that all people are endowed with inalienable rights, the pursuit of liberty and justice for ALL. Whether it be the attempted genocide of this continent’s first nations, slavery, Jim Crow, the denial of rights to people of color, to women, to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, and those with disabilities, we have too often made decisions as a nation based not on our higher ideals, but our basest fears.
But there have always been those who stood on the side of justice and there have always been moments of clarity and progress. Our goal should be to continue that progress, not retreat from it. We recently celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who, in paraphrasing the words of Theodore Parker, said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But it has never bent on its own. It has always taken hard work on the part of our nation’s people to bend our country’s “moral arc” and it will take incredible work right now. NCCJ supports the actions of those protesting in the streets on January 21st, of those protesting in airports all weekend, of those lawyers who volunteered their time to advocate for those detained in airports across the country this weekend, and of those judges who enacted the stay against this weekend’s Executive Order.
NCCJ urges all members of our communities to not give into calls for hate and fear. To not give into the idea that one group of people’s lives have more value than another. We urge all of us to renew our commitment to do all we can to “bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice”. To acknowledge the humanity of all people. To renew our commitment to the pursuit of liberty and justice for ALL. To renew our commitment to welcome the stranger. And to renew our commitment to Emma Lazarus’ words, so poignantly described on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”