Trump's Immigration Orders Compared To World War II Policies

Jan 26, 2017

A local Muslim advocacy group is concerned by a proposed immigration ban. The Cincinnati chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calls President Donald Trump's plans on immigration "misguided."

A draft of the executive order released on Wednesday is called "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals." It would place a 30-day ban on immigrants from several countries, including Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and stop the re-settling of refugees from Syria.

CAIR-Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub says such an executive order won't make America safer.

"Rather it will reinforce fear, hate, and division within our country," Dabdoub says. "Excluding people based on religion is nothing more than xenophobia, Islamophobia and in this case, fear-mongering."

Dabdoub said people can look back at American history to World War II for a similar situation. 

"One of our darkest moments in our history was during World War Two when we turned away Jewish refugees seeking the protection of our shores," Dabdoub says. "We cannot allow religious bigotry to affect our willingness and ability to welcome those fleeing violence and persecution."

She was joined by representatives of other religious organizations and civil rights groups. Many of the speakers also drew parallels to the World War II.

Kaz Sato is president of the Cincinnati chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. He says February marks the 75 anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing an executive order that paved the way for the internment of Japanese-American citizens and those of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast.

"Somebody mentioned that the United States can do the same thing to Muslims,'' Sato says. "That really perked my antennae up. We have to help our neighbors and Muslims or any other minorities that might be picked up by this xenophobia. That is one thing that we are going to do - continue to talk about history and make sure that history does not repeat again."

President of the Unitarian Universalist Council of Greater Cincinnati, Lee Meyer, says she was also reminded of European Jews being denied entry into the United States during the 1930s.

"Our government is preparing to refuse sanctuary in this country to people who are trying to escape genocide," Meyer says. 

On Wednesday, President Trump signed another executive order that would lead to the construction of a border wall between the United State and Mexico. The wall was one of Trump's campaign promises.

Don Sherman, chair of the civil rights committee of the Cincinnati League of United Latin American Citizens says his organization was formed in 1929 by World War One Latino veterans to oppose discrimination.

Sherman says "President Trump's executive orders… were all about fear and racism."

Sherman says Trump's orders would build a literal wall and a metaphorical wall.

"This policy certainly perpetuates the narrative that our country is at war with Islam, but only really serves as a powerful recruiting tool for jihadist groups like al-Qaeda," Sherman says. "We should be welcoming these refugees and citizens from other countries instead of turning them away."

As of midday Thursday, Trump had not signed the executive orders.