Trump travel ban 'fodder for our enemies,' Wyden says
Sen. Ron Wyden stuck his foot in the door slammed shut by the U.S. Supreme Court — which has upheld a ban on travelers from seven crisis-rocked nations seeking American shores.
The White House's travel ban "will do so little to protect our country, and do so much to provide more fodder for our enemies," Sen. Wyden, D-Oregon, said during a roundtable meeting at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization on Northeast Glisan Street in Portland on Friday, June 29.
"The travel ban is really a huge blow to business and commerce between our country and elsewhere," he continued.
The nation's highest court on June 26 deemed legal the ban on traffic between the U.S. and Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea, which was created by a series of executive orders issued by President Donald Trump as recently as September.
On the campaign trail, President Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., though the final list of nations includes only five that have large Muslim populations. The presidential proclamation does not mention religion, but says the targeted nations have inadequate protocols for verifying the identity of its citizens.
The Supreme Court allowed the travel ban to take effect in December while it considered various legal challenges. The Trump Administration has said it will allow exemptions to the ban on a case-by-case basis.
That's cold comfort for Sahar Muranovic, an Iranianwhose sister was detained for 23 hours after she flew into California to continue her graduate studies just as the first travel ban went into effect in late January.
"Her and all the other passengers had their phone, documents taken from them. They had no idea what was going to happen," she said. "I'm scared to apply for citizenship. I don't know if that would get me on somebody's radar or not."
Others in the room said their fears had heightened following the fatal stabbing on a MAX train in May, 2017.
Iraq native Ahmed Alzubaidi said his wife was worried about people asking her to take off her hijab in public, while schoolyard bullies had targeted his 11-year-old son, saying things like "you need to go back home" and "Trump will bomb you."
"Even in my community, there are many people who don't want to go to places to practice their
prayer, because maybe someone is watching them," he noted.
Vadim Fabyanchuk — a businessman and leader in the local Ukrainian expat community — opted for a different tack, highlighting how religious leaders can feel stifled in liberally-governed Multnomah County.
"Pastors are afraid to speak out about certain things, and share their views in what they truly believe in," Fabyanchuk said, referencing abortion. "Today they feel that many of their views as Christians does not go to what's considered normal."
Wyden said the meeting was a much needed eye-opener after a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call that day and a late-night vote yesterday on the farm bill. The senior senator representing Oregon is visiting Portland, Astoria, Eugene and Ashland as part of his First Amendment tour highlighting the freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and to petition the government with grievances.
With an eye to the shooting that left five journalists dead in a newsroom in Maryland on Thursday, Wyden told the reporters in the room that he would speak out for their rights as well.
"When this much poison gets spewed out in the public square — violence feeds on that kind of rhetoric."