On the Executive Order regarding Refugees and Travel Restrictions

Just as Presbyterians for Middle East Peace has opposed rigid approaches (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) to peacemaking in the Israel-Palestinian conflict so we are opposed to rigid approaches to refugees and immigrants to the United States from Middle Eastern, predominately Muslim, nations. The executive branch of our government bears a responsibility to protect the people of our country. The executive branch is also expected to act with careful deliberation and competence, and to always remember that we are a nation of compassion to those in need. These are not partisan principles. These are long-standing principles that transcend our political differences.

The Executive Order President Trump signed January 27, 2017 which mandates the “Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern” violates these essential principles. It is understandably being seen as cruel and done hastily without the care essential to such an action. This order will inevitably exacerbate the multiple conflicts in the Middle East, an outcome which does not advance the security of Americans living in the United States or, especially, overseas.

Justice is not achieved through rigidity. It is achieved through nuanced actions and multidimensional approaches. There are many different ways to control immigration to the United States. Indeed, arguably, the United States has done immigration better than any nation in human history, leading to the most diverse population in the world today. Our diversity is at the heart of what makes us a great nation.

We call upon the President and members of Congress to return to what we know works in regard to immigration and the treatment of refugees and abandon rigid, draconian actions such as the Executive Order of January 27th. This Executive Order is a classic “slippery slope” of which conservative and progressive jurists alike always warn. We know where it begins. We know not where it ends.