Durham News

Durham City Council adopts resolution opposing Trump’s immigrant, refugee ban

Mimi Fatuma holds a sign during a press conference criticizing President Donald Trump's order banning immigration by refugees from seven mostly Muslim nations.
Mimi Fatuma holds a sign during a press conference criticizing President Donald Trump's order banning immigration by refugees from seven mostly Muslim nations. KAITLIN MCKEOWN The Herald-Sun

The Durham City Council asked President Donald Trump on Thursday to rescind or modify his executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven mostly Muslim countries.

“The Durham City Council declares its opposition to the executive order signed by the president on January 27, 2017 and respectively calls on the president either to rescind the executive order in its entirety or to modify the executive order in support of refugees and their settlement in greater numbers here in the United States,” states a resolution, which was adopted unanimously.

The resolution also says Durham is open and welcoming to immigrants and refugees and “further reaffirms that Durham’s immigrant and refugee communities are integral to the life our city.”

It also proclaims May 6, “Durham Refugee Day” in Durham.

The presidential campaign and election unleashed “some dangerous forces,” in the U.S., said City Councilman Charlie Reece, who introduced the resolution.

Reece pointed to examples that include Durham City Councilwoman Cora Cole-Fadden being intimidated while driving to a City Council meeting in November, and a Wednesday bomb threat to the Lerner Jewish Community Day School.

“I think it’s really, really timely to come together as a fulfillment of the pledge that we made in our open letter to stand up for all the people in the city,” Reece said.

The open letter, issued by the City Council after the November election, promises to defend the city’s “progressive values – whatever the character of the president of the United States, and whatever the policies he or she may choose to pursue.”

The resolution adopted Thursday further says:

“The Executive Order fails to demonstrate an understanding that refugees are the victims of political, social and religious persecution in their own countries, and further fails to recognize the reality that refugees must leave their own countries for their own safety. As a result of failures, the executive order unfairly separates families in Durham, the Triangle, and the United States from their loved ones, and unnecessarily withdraws the hope of safety and a new life from tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

The resolution

WHEREAS the United Nations reports that the current refugee crisis is the greatest displacement of human beings in recorded history;

WHEREAS The President of the United States signed an Executive Order on January 27, 2017 that blocked the entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days, barred the entry of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and suspended for 90 days the entry of refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen;

WHEREAS the Executive Order was initially implemented so as to block entry into the United States by all persons from those seven enumerated countries, even visa holders and lawful permanent United States residents;

WHEREAS the Executive Order fails to demonstrate an understanding that refugees are the victims of political, social and religious persecution in their own countries, and further fails to recognize the reality that refugees must leave their own countries for their own safety;

WHEREAS as a result of failures, the Executive Order unfairly separates families in Durham, the Triangle, and the United States from their loved ones, and unnecessarily withdraws the hope of safety and a new life from tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people;

WHEREAS the overwhelming majority of people seeking refuge through The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United States Department of State are vulnerable women and children who will otherwise remain in harm’s way;

WHEREAS according to Durham’s refugee resettlement agencies, a significant portion of refugees fleeing to the United States are coming to join family members from whom they have been separated for years;

WHEREAS not one American life has been lost to an act of terrorism perpetrated by a refugee registered by the United Nations in the nearly four decades of the refugee program, during which time three million refugees have been admitted to the United States safely;

WHEREAS the United States has a proud humanitarian tradition since the late 1970’s of welcoming refugees of all nationalities and religions — a tradition which is deeply grounded in our most fundamental and deeply-held national values;

WHEREAS the city of Durham has a long-standing commitment not only to being open and welcoming to immigrants and refugees but also to understanding that our immigrant and refugee communities are integral to the life of our city.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:

SECTION 1. The Durham City Council declares its opposition to the Executive Order signed by the President on January 27, 2017 and respectfully calls on the President either to rescind the Executive Order in its entirety or to modify the Executive Order in support of refugees and their settlement in greater numbers here in the United States.

SECTION 2. The Durham City Council reaffirms that the city of Durham is open and welcoming to immigrants and refugees, and further reaffirms that Durham’s immigrant and refugee communities are integral to the life of our city.

SECTION 3. The Durham City Council calls upon people of good will in the city of Durham and across North Carolina to join in calling on the President to permit refugees to continue to be resettled peacefully and in greater numbers here in the United States.

SECTION 4: The Durham City Council hereby proclaims May 6, 2017 “Durham Refugee Day” in the city of Durham, and requests that all Durham residents celebrate on that day the immeasurable value that refugees bring to our city.

SECTION 5: The Durham City Council asks the City Clerk to send copies of this resolution to all members of the city of Durham’s delegation in the United States Congress, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, and the President of the United States.

This the twenty-third day of February, 2017.

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