signs reads "we support our muslim neighbors"
A sign at the January 2017 protest of the Muslim travel ban at San Francisco International Airport (Photo/Ruben Arquilevich)

Our community pushes back against the ban — it hurts all of us

An arcane civics lesson played out across the nation this week when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the constitutionality of President Trump’s sweeping immigration ban.

As of press time, the judges had not decided whether to uphold the stay on the administration’s draconian order, which bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. But they seemed highly skeptical of the Trump edict.

We hope the court quashes the refugee ban. If that decision were to go to the Supreme Court, it would likely result in a 4-4 split, which would mean the appellate court ruling for common decency would stand.

And then, perhaps, America might restore its reputation as a safe harbor for the world’s tempest-tossed, a reputation badly tarnished by this president.

For those who maintain that Trump’s executive order stands as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, we suggest you read our story this week about the ban’s impact locally. It not only affects Muslims who risked their lives to help U.S. military forces, and who now want a fresh start in America. It hurts refugees of all stripes, including Jews from Russia and Ukraine, clients of Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley who are already holding entry visas but are now stuck in limbo.

The Jewish community, locally and nationally, is pushing back against the executive order.

The latest to do so is HIAS, the venerable international organization founded in 1881 to help Jews fleeing Eastern European pogroms. HIAS, which aids refugees around the world, filed suit against the ban this week in federal court. It also organized a National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees, set to take place in New York and nine other American cities this Sunday.

“We’re doing this because it’s essential there is a powerful expression of support for refugees from the Jewish community now,” said Rebecca Kirzner, HIAS’ director of campaigns. “The executive order was a betrayal of Jewish values, American values, and flies in the face of what this country stands for.”

Locally, Day of Action protests will take place at the Holocaust Memorial in San Francisco and the Mountain View Civic Center. Multiple congregations took the lead on these actions, including Kol Shofar in Tiburon. Rabbi Susan Leider explains, “The reason we’re here, and why so many of our ancestors survived, is because previous refugee policies allowed our people to live.”

This country was founded on the strength of immigrants from all over the world. We need to remember that.