Rights advocates slam Trump plans on Muslim immigrants, refugees

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By Daniel Trotta | NEW YORK

NEW YORK Immigrant and refugee advocates on
Wednesday denounced White House plans to temporarily stop
receiving refugees and suspend visas for people from seven
Middle Eastern and North African countries, saying they target
Muslims and will make America less safe.

A draft executive order seen by Reuters that Trump is
expected to sign in the coming days would block the entry of
refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any
immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African
countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen
while permanent rules are studied.

Trump is also expected to order a multi-month ban on
allowing refugees into the United States except for religious
minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting
is in place, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be

The administration’s aim is to head off Islamist violence in
the United States, but critics say the measures soil America’s
reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants of all kinds.

“The president needs to know he’s an absolute fool for
fostering this kind of hostility in his first few days. This
will inflame violence against Americans around the world,” said
Seth Kaper-Dale, a pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland
Park, New Jersey, which he said helped resettle 28 refugee and
asylum-seeking families in the state last year.

Before his Nov. 8 election victory, Trump, a Republican,
pledged to stop taking refugees from Syria and immigrants from
countries deemed to pose a terrorism risk.

“Muslims, we believe, are the sole targets of these orders,”
said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.

“These orders are a disturbing confirmation of Islamophobic
and un-American policy proposals made during the presidential
election campaign,” Awad told a news conference in Washington.

During the campaign, Trump originally proposed a ban on all
Muslims entering the country, a measure that almost certainly
would have faced legal challenges for discrimination on the
basis of religion. He later altered his stance to target
countries known to be sources of terrorism.

About 100 protesters gathered in New York City’s Washington
Square Park chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are
here to stay.” They also blasted the Trump administration as “too male, too pale and too stale.”

“We reject policies that turn their backs on those who have
suffered,” U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York City
Democrat, shouted to protesters. (Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley in Washington
and Gina Cherelus and Jonathan Allen in New York)

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