February 2, 2017

Lawmakers, Community Leaders Condemn Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” Executive Order


Tejinder Singh
AAPI event at NPC 5

(L-R) Nisha Desai Biswal, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal, Shekar Narasimhan and Manpreet Singh Anand

Washington, DC – US lawmakers and prominent leaders recently announced plans for a sustained effort to fight the Trump administration’s immigration executive orders. President Trump’s executive order has led to protesting voices and condemnation across the globe.

Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Nisha Desai Biswal, former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs at the US Department of State said, “This executive order does not make us safer; it imposes the most severe of burdens on the most vulnerable among us.”

Biswal who introduced speakers, added, “To single out people because of their nationality or their faith is unethical. It goes against our responsibilities from the Geneva Conventions and poses an unjust, un-American and what we believe to be an unconstitutional ban on immigrants and refugees.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal told the audience, “It is unthinkable that this country, which welcomed me when I arrived at 16 years old, would so boldly, defiantly and barbarically turn its back on immigrants and refugees,” noting, “Let us be clear that President Trump came into office by demonizing and ‘otherizing’ immigrants and refugees. While we had hoped that perhaps he would move from being a divisive candidate to being a unifying President, he is failing us. I call on our communities to condemn and resist these executive orders.”

At the event organized by the AAPI Victory Fund, newly elected Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois said, “I was elected to help unify our country. This executive order from President Trump is an assault on our Constitution; it hurts working families; and it only serves to divide Americans, not unify them.” Krishnamoorthi emphasized, “It is no longer time to agonize but to organize. It is time to do everything we can to oppose this executive order.”

“I believe this executive order will not only be ineffective, it will be counterproductive,” noted Manpreet Singh Anand, former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the US Department of State. Based on his personal experience as a Sikh growing up in the US and professional expertise as a diplomat, Anand told journalists, “By not including interagency government professionals, the order was horribly executed and will end up being unlawful as well as alienate our partners.”

Calling the executive order “a stain on our history,” Shekar Narasimhan, chair of the AAPI Victory Fund and the driving force behind the protests said, “We unite and call on our Members of Congress to deny President Trump the funds to carry out these unlawful executive orders.”

Replying to an IAT question on the sustainability of the reaction to the executive orders, Narasimhan said, “We won’t rest,” expressing confidence that Congress would float bills, and there would be lobbying to convert them into law. “We must focus on those things which are fundamentally important to our values and we have to start winning,” he stressed.

Citing Mahatma Gandhi’s example how one man moves the nations, Secretary Biswal said, “We are here talking of millions across our nation, who have stood up and said they are not going to be part of this executive order, this policy that seeks to divide us.”

Labeling the ban in the executive order as unconstitutional, Congressman Ro Khanna said in a statement, “We cannot allow policies to exist that are not consistent with our founding ideals and values. I swore in on the Constitution, and will always stand up for Constitutional principles.”

Congressman Ami Bera from California announced in a statement, “I’m fighting back, and today sponsored the SOLVe Act to repeal this discriminatory executive order,” noting that prior to 1965, it was very difficult for people of Indian origin to immigrate to the United States, and “this order takes us backwards toward that dark time.” The SOLVe, or Statue of Liberty Values, Act is a bill pushed by House Democrats to curtail Trump’s immigration ban.

Denouncing the blanket ban on any country, Hari Eppanapally, Chairman – Lead India Foundation argued for stricter vetting process saying in a statement, “Irrespective of their country, I am for strict vetting at the source on the individuals before US grants a visa and also verify before they board a plane heading to US and then one more check at the entry point into the US.”

The executive action, as the White House now labels the earlier executive orders, bans citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all predominantly Shia Muslim countries, from entering the United States. The action signed by President Donald Trump in his first week in office also barred Syrian refugees from entering the country.

AAPI event Sekhar Biswal Anand 3