Interfaith vigil in Austin to denounce immigration order

The fallout from President Donald Trump's Executive Order is also being felt in Central Texas. From protestors at Austin Bergstrom International Airport on Sunday, to an interfaith vigil Monday night. Austinites want to make it clear to the White House: refugees and immigrants should be welcomed in the United States with open arms. 

The crowd so large at the vigil, it spilled out of the First English Lutheran Church in Austin. Hundreds gathering to take a stand against the immigration order.

“I think it's an issue that people really care about, it shows that people are really passionate about this,” says vigil goer Monica McAlister. She, like many, waited in a long line to get into the church.

Refugee Council U.S.A. sponsored the vigil. Church leaders and immigrant’s rights advocates also taking to the podium to denounce President Trump’s new policy. The crowd giving a rousing applause to a family of Syrian refugees who fled their war torn country. “I also thank the U.S.A. for everything they've done in accepting our family,” said the young girl beaming with pride about her new home.

The pew research center says Texas ranked second in 2016 with the highest number of refugees resettled, 7,803. California is listed with the largest number in fiscal year 2016 with 7,909.  

President Trump’s order bans refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. Refugees from Syria will be prohibited from entering indefinitely. The order also prevents travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days.

“He often said on the campaign trail that he was going to seek a ban on Muslim's entering the United States,” says vigil attendee Jim Roberts-Miller. He says that President Trump’s order is more about religious discrimination rather than border security.

“Rhetoric is rhetoric but at the end of the day President Trump has a solemn responsibility to keep us safe,” says State Representative Jeff Leach of his support for the order. Leach underscoring that he believes the ban has nothing to do with religious beliefs, “Not from Muslims or any other religion but from people who wish to do us harm and that's what this executive order is aimed at doing.”

The Republican Representative from Collin County also cautions what he says is a knee-jerk reaction to the order. And he adds, “I would hope that people would be reasoned in their approach and deliberate in their discussions so that we can have an actual honest, intelligent conversation about an important issue.”

He says the roll-out could have been smoother but that the protestors don’t fully understand the policy and what it entails.

“I think it’s unfair, I think it’s wrong, I think it’s misrepresenting what President Trump and his administration are all about,” he says.  “We shouldn't have a problem having strong borders in this country, we welcome refugees, we welcome immigrants but we want to make sure that the people who are living in America, lawful residents, are safe and secure and that's what the President has done.”

What does President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order entail?

  • People who are U.S. citizens and those holding green cards are not affected.
  • Citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen are prohibited from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days.
  • The White House says the countries chosen were also identified as countries to watch under the Obama Administration.
  • On Sunday, a Federal Judge ruled citizens from the seven countries who are valid visa holders and in the U.S. cannot be deported.
  • Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.
  • The order prevents refugees from countries other than Syria from entering the U.S. for 120 days.
  • White House says the time will be spent improving the vetting process.
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