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The President’s Remarks and Actions on Holocaust Remembrance Day

On January 27th, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump made a statement and signed executive action that appear to be in opposition to one another.

In the morning, the White House provided a statement that vowed “to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good” and that “we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.” As we pay attention to those in need throughout the world, some of the groups that have been in great need are migrants and refugees.

A refugee is “a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution”. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remember that those fleeing the Holocaust were, by definition, refugees. We also must realize that the United States turned away Jewish refugees – “Government officials from the State Department to the FBI to President Franklin Roosevelt himself argued that refugees posed a serious threat to national security.” Most notably was the German ocean liner, St. Louis which carried 937 refugees.  Many of those who were turned away, crossed the ocean and became casualties of World War II.  On January 27th, 2017, a rabbi and an educator/activist, took to Twitter to remember and give a name, and sometimes a face, to those refugees.

As President Trump signs executive orders on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, suspending refugee admissions for 120 days, indefinitely blocking all Syrian refugees, blocking entry to the US from seven countries, and limiting the amount of refugees, the White House statement from earlier in the day rings hollow. The statement reads, “it is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror” of the Nazi regime and we know that the depravity and horror of war is still alive in Syria and other war-torn countries that carefully vetted refugees are escaping from. 

As an organization that cares about the most vulnerable in our society and believes in promoting nonviolent, peaceful resolutions to conflicts, we at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center oppose any plan to reduce refugee admissions, especially a plan that explicitly targets and excludes Muslims from being resettled in the United States. We advocate strongly against policy changes that deny refugees access based on their religion or country of origin.

As people of faith, we must welcome the stranger, welcome people who are suffering, and provide for those who are fleeing war, terror, and persecution. This is central to the message of the Gospel and a core Christian belief. Promoting racist and xenophobic messages, by equating all members of one religion to a radical sect, is dangerous and misguided.

IJPC is proud to work in solidarity, peace, and justice alongside CAIR and with the Muslim community. We stand in resistance to President Trump’s executive orders and divisive rhetoric against refugees and their allies.

Please call your Member of Congress and share your concerns with them. Tell them that we believe refugees and Muslims are welcome in our community.