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Senator Sanders reading constitution photo
Senator Sanders reading constitution photo

BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS, JR.

Get ready for chaos at the airports and another round of anti-Muslim sentiment, as the Supreme Court has allowed part of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect.

The executive order still prohibits immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States for 90 days and suspends entry for all refugees for 120 days.

However, there has been a notable change.

As long as the person who is traveling from one of the named nations has a “bona fide relationship” to a person or entity here in the U.S., they may stay, for now.

That leaves banned only those without connections here, a class almost exclusively made up of refugees. In other words, the one class of people excluded, is the class of people most in need of the help. They are also, arguably, the class most helpful to us.

We know all too well here in Queens that immigrants and refugees are not job-stealers but job creators. They revitalize neighborhoods, open businesses, and do the hardest jobs. But, far more than they have benefited downstate New York, refugees have benefited upstate. There, the economy has been sluggish for decades. Towns have been shrinking and schools have been emptying. In the last few decades that has changed. All along the former Erie Canal, new shops have opened and the boards have come off old houses as refugees have relocated to old industrial towns. To stop this class of people from entering the country would be a historic loss for our entire state.

On Monday, June 26, the Supreme Court decided it would hear a case about Trump’s travel ban in October. This means that the various Federal District Court decisions that froze the July and then the March orders, will be reconsidered and perhaps overturned. In the meantime, we live in a world where Muslims are targeted for exclusion from our nation, based on the supposed danger of their committing terrorist attacks.

Whatever the decision to come in October, there is a new normal. Now, what is to stop a ban on larger communities?  I am thinking especially of the many Bangladeshi and Turkish Muslims in Queens. There has been an increase in terror attacks in Bangladesh in recent years, for instance. What will stop the administration from making the exact same case to ban visitors from the fourth largest Muslim nation on earth?

I am fearful, then, that the recent Supreme Court decision predicts the decision to come in October. It would be a shame and plainly against American – and New York values – to single out refugees for exclusion, and what sort of precedent will this set for the years to come? We cannot sit by idly and allow this to happen.

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