Speech on Order of Business, Tuesday, 31st January, 2017
On Friday, January 27th 2017 President Trump signed an executive order that halted the entire refugee programme for Syria for 4 months.
Citizens from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen are blocked for 3 months.
The executive order also included legal permanent residents and dual citizens holding a passport from any of the countries listed.
The result was confusion and fear among immigrant and refugee communities across the United States and at its major airports.
The reaction by ordinary American citizens to this un-American act however, has been nothing short of extraordinary.
On Sunday, I stood as Senator for the global Irish in solidarity with immigrant and refugee community groups at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Over 5,000 people turned out in an impromptu show of force and defiance to denounce president Trump’s executive orders.
They were joined by similar protests in New York, Boston, Denver and 33 other airports across the United States.
More than 50 people at O’Hare airport alone were detained.
Citizens and Green Card holders with valid visas were detained by customs and border control agents.
New York Federal Judge, Anne Donnelly, a good Irish-American, granted a stay on any deportations and eventually anyone detained was released.
On Sunday, I met a young man from the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society in Chicago, who’s parents are both green card holders from Iraq, where they had spent 10 years working for American Non-Government Organisations, helping to rebuild a ravaged country.
Othman Al Ani’s mother travelled to Egypt recently to visit a son she had not seen for 8 years but as of Sunday, she remained trapped in Egypt, unable to return home as a result of this ban.
America is a nation of laws but it is also a nation of values. It has always been outward-looking and welcoming to immigrants of all faiths and lands.
These executive orders do not reflect the spirit of the American people or the country’s leadership role in the world.
Senator Billy Lawless.