Jewish groups, lawmakers decry Trump’s new immigration executive order


(JTA) — Jewish groups and lawmakers condemned an executive order issued by President Donald Trump banning new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries.

Trump on Monday signed an order blocking for 90 days new visas for citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq, which was included in an earlier version of the order that was blocked by federal judges, was not included in the new order.

The order, which is effective March 16, also bans all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days.

The Reform movement slammed the executive order, calling it “discriminatory and unjust.”

“The Jewish community – like all Americans whose ancestors arrived as refugees and immigrants – was given opportunities to access education, join the workforce, and contribute to their communities and their country. Let us not now allow fear to overwhelm our nation’s capacity for compassion,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religion Action Center, said on behalf of the movement in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League “strongly condemned” the order, calling it “an appeal to xenophobia and fear.”

“While some of the initial executive order has been revised, the message is the same: that Muslims and refugees who are fleeing for their lives are not welcome on our shores,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director.

HIAS, a refugee resettlement agency formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, urged Jews to fight back against the order.

“We will resist all attempts to vilify refugees,” the group wrote on Twitter. “The U.S. Jewish community owes its very existence to a tradition of welcoming refugees.”

Jewish members of Congress also slammed the revised executive order, including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich.

“Despite minor changes, the administration’s new executive order is just as legally objectionable and morally reprehensible as the original,” Cardin said in a statement. “There is a real threat that this nation faces from terrorism, and our policy efforts must address that threat. This order does not do that. Instead, it makes us less safe, damages our moral leadership, and strengthens the hand of those who would do us harm either through recruitment or self-radicalization.

The National Council of Jewish Women called Trump’s order “merely a renewed Muslim ban,” and its CEO, Nancy Kaufman, said it was “simply a way to codify xenophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

“As Jews we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger — as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. It’s imperative that we continue to open our communities to those fleeing violence and/or seeking better lives in the United States,” Kaufman said in a statement.

The social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action said it would “fight for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

“This is not about national security — he is targeting Muslims, immigrants and refugees purely out of spite and fear, but national security experts agree that his action today will not keep us safer,” the group’s CEO, Stosh Cotler, said in a statement.

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights also condemned the measure.

The executive order “continues to effectively close our borders to Muslims, and flagrantly violates America’s longstanding, values-driven commitment to serving as a safe haven for refugees,” said a statement by the rabbinic group. “Masked as an effort to ensure national security, this new executive order is more of the same Islamophobia that targets Muslims by reinstating the discredited vetting procedures, established after September 11, 2001, aimed at men from Muslim-majority countries.”

Jewish groups came out almost unanimously in opposition to the earlier version of the executive order last month, including organizations representing Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews. The Zionist Organization of America was the only major Jewish group to unreservedly support the executive order.

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