As constituents in Congressman Lee Zeldin’s district, I am writing on behalf of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee to voice our opposition to the Jan. 27 executive order that bans immigrants and refugees from seven countries. At the very least, this ban is un-American and defies the values that our country was built upon. We are a nation of immigrants.
This ban puts our nation and our military at a security risk and causes global imbalance. At a Jan. 31 meeting at Riverhead Free Library, 87 of Mr. Zeldin’s constituents met with his district manager, Mark Woolley. Concerned citizens cited that the ban actually makes them feel “less safe.” Is this what you want for the people in your district?
The order was implemented in an incompetent fashion that caused chaos and confusion across our country. There were concerns brought up at the Jan. 31 gathering as to whether or not Mr. Zeldin had intervened on behalf of detainees from his district, such as Vahideh Rasekhi, a Stony Brook University doctoral student and Iranian national who was detained for more than 24 hours.
The 9/11 attack on America has been cited in discussion of this executive order, yet none of the 9/11 or post-9/11 terrorists came from the countries included in the executive order.
It has been alleged that President Barack Obama took a similar action in 2011 out of concern for terrorism, but this is not true. The Obama administration conducted a review in 2011 of the vetting procedures applied to citizens of a single country (Iraq) and then changed the visa waiver program by saying that citizens of those allied countries who travel to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan, and later Libya, Yemen and Somalia, after March 2011 were not eligible for a visa waiver. This was by no means a ban.
The vetting process in our country is already stringent and can take up to two years to complete. Many at the Jan. 31 meeting in Riverhead asked Mr. Woolley why refugees who had already gone through this process were detained.
This executive order is unconstitutional and illegal. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, replacing the old prejudicial system.
As a group of extremely concerned citizens, we ask that Mr. Zeldin do everything in his power to stop this ban, as it is his responsibility to represent our district. This ban is not in accordance with the very principles that our nation was founded upon. Our first president, George Washington, wrote that “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.”
Top photo: (Credit: Misha Popovikj/flickr.com)
Marge Acevedo is chair of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee.