Protests at airports around the country occurred this weekend, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days.
Travis Trice and Michelle Clowe of Jacksonville’s World Relief, along with Asghar Syed from Florida board of Emerge USA, and Ericka Curran, immigration attorney with Florida Coastal School of Law, discussed the legal ramifications of the decision Monday on First Coast Connect.
The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Some people from those countries were detained as they arrived at the nation's airports.
Curran said, “I think the due process rights of those individuals being held in the facilities have been violated and they should have access to counsel.”
The 109 people detained and questioned in U.S. airports over the weekend have been released, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Trice added there is no data to show refugees committing any acts of terrorism.
“We do our vetting overseas — no one comes to the United States without being completely screened by the UNHCR, which takes many years alone,” he said.
Trice said the travel ban also affects U.S. Resettlement Agencies, who have “budgeted and staffed and prepared for 110,000 arrivals per year.”
He said, “Once this is lifted, you're going to see a crippling of the infrastructure of these non-profits,” because more than half from the current level of 110,000 refugees have already been admitted into the country in 2017.
Syed, who serves as a board member for an organization advocating for Muslim, South Asian and Arab American communities said: “This law appears to be making us less safe. As Sen. Ben Sasse, republican from Nebraska said, ‘if we signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadist, then the terrorists recruiters win.’
Clowe said the ban puts the lives of refugees at risk, particularly two single Iraqis who were denied access to the country.
“They served our armed forces as translators. And in their country, if it's known that they did that, their life is at risk.”
Syed said Emerge USA is launching a 100-day campaign and are meeting with the all of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives to speak about the issues that are important to the Muslim community.
Curran said Florida Coastal and the Jacksonville area legal aid are going to host a legal panel on the issues this Saturday at noon.
She said, “Our clinic is representing many asylum seekers from these seven countries.”
World Relief is looking for “volunteers to help refugees, as the ban will cut staff,” Clowe said. She hopes the community will step up, “it's just a matter of being a friend and helping them navigate their new life here.”