Vietnamese Refugee Catholic Priest to Trump: Give My Citizenship to a Syrian
A Catholic priest who fled to the U.S. from war-torn Vietnam as a youth has written to President Trump offering to surrender his American citizenship so that the president could confer it on a Syrian refugee who would be barred under Trump’s controversial order banning travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries.
The Rev. Chuong Hoai Nguyen, a member of the Salesian order, also told Trump he would ask his religious superiors for permission to go live and work in one of the seven countries on the banned list.
“Yes! I am a refugee,” Nguyen, who works with the Vietnamese community in Los Angeles (USA) and runs a Catholic youth centre there, wrote to the president. “I am an American and I have made America great in my own way for the 42 years since I was granted asylum in this great country. But now, I would like to relinquish my U.S. citizenship and ask that you grant it to a Syrian refugee,” he wrote. “I am certain that they, like all refugees, will not squander this gift of life. I believe they will also ‘make America great,’ alongside your children and grandchildren.”
When Nguyen read about the order, he wrote the president, “My heart and my soul were frozen.” Nguyen went on to detail his harrowing journey from Vietnam in 1975, along with hundreds of thousands of other “boat people,” as Communist forces overran the country following the American withdrawal.
“Becoming a refugee is a choice one makes when there are no other options,” Nguyen wrote. He recounted how he came to the U.S., became a priest and dedicated himself to building up the nation that gave him and others like him sanctuary. Now Nguyen says he is ready to yield his citizenship to another refugee, if Trump will allow it. It was not immediately known whether the White House had responded to the priest’s letter or whether such a citizenship swap would be possible.
African Union Leader Condemns Ban
South African politician and chairperson of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma spoke out against Trump’s visa ban. Addressing representatives of the continental union’s 54 member states during a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she said: “The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries”.
September 11 Families: Don’t Use Our Loved Ones To Turn Away Refugees
President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting refugees and immigrants explicitly mentions the September 11 terrorist attacks, three times. The president has claimed that the new restrictions honour the lives lost on that tragic day. Now, some victims’ family members are speaking out against Trump’s order “ and claiming that his administration is using their loved ones’ deaths to stoke fear. A group of eight individuals involved with the organization September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows came together to denounce Trump’s ban as thoroughly un-American. Terry McGovern, whose mother Ann McGovern died in the South Tower, said that she was “sickened” by Trump’s use of September 11 to justify “hatred, bigotry, and religious discrimination.” “Don’t use our loved ones, and especially my mother, to turn away refugees,” McGovern said during a press conference call arranged by the group. “This is not about protecting Americans. This is about bigotry. I for one am really tired of the exploitation of 9/11 for agendas that have nothing to do with our loved ones.” Talat Hamdani is an American Muslim whose son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, lost his life at the Twin Towers as a first responder to the attacks. She says Trump’s order amounts to “religious persecution” and fears it will eventually lead to more stringent attacks on the American Muslims’ freedoms.
U.S. Diplomats Draft ‘Dissent Memo’ Objecting To Trump’s Ban
Scores of American diplomats stationed across the globe have drafted a formal “dissent memo” to register their objections to President Donald Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. The draft memo, obtained by ABC News, represents the most significant opposition thus far from within the Trump administration to the president’s controversial executive order.
“This ban … will not achieve its stated aim of to protect [sic] the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” wrote the diplomats. “It will immediately sour relations with these six countries, as well as much of the Muslim world, which sees the ban as religiously motivated.”
The draft memo does not contain any signatures, and its contents are categorized as “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
Neighbors Cover School Lawn for Refugees With Warm Welcomes.
The International Community School, a public charter school that seeks out and teaches refugee and immigrant children in DeKalb County, Georgia, USA, was plastered with positive signs made by its neighbours. The handmade signs, planted in the school’s lawn and along its sidewalk, carry messages including “You’re home,” “We are one” and “We are glad you are here.”
“It restores some of my faith in humanity,” Danny Vincent, a mother who lives in the area, said. “It’s a reminder that that’s where this change has to happen. And that’s where we could do the most good, by taking care of the people around us.”
“When I went by that school this morning and I saw those signs and I saw those kids walking and reading those signs,” Vincent said, choking back tears. “I thought, ‘I can do this. We can do more of this.’ It’s knocked some of the cynicism out of me.”
US bishops: Refugee order will only harm victims of war, terror
Catholic bishops and relief leaders were among the critics of President Donald Trump’s order. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, in his role as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, said the U.S. bishops “strongly disagree” with the halt on refugee admissions. “We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope,” he said.
The bishops said they believe in aiding everyone vulnerable who is fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion, the Austin bishop said. “We need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country,” Bishop Vasquez continued. “They are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity. We believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do.”
Catholic relief leaders also criticized the order. “People seeking refuge in the United States and elsewhere are victims “ often of the same terrorists from whom we must protect ourselves,” Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services president and CEO, said. “We know the people most affected by extremists and conflict. They are people like all Americans, seeking safety and a better life for their families. In fact, in our work around the world, we depend on many of them for our own safety. They need our help – now!”
“People fleeing violence all suffer the same irrespective of their religion. Refugee admissions should not depend on religion. As Catholics we feel the responsibility to help all those in need,” added Bill O’Keefe, Catholic Relief Services’ vice-president of government relations and advocacy.
US refugee ban: Canada’s Justin Trudeau takes a stand
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a stand on social media against the temporary US ban on refugees and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Mr Trudeau underscored his government’s commitment to bringing in those fleeing persecution, terror and war.
Within hours, Mr Trudeau’s tweets had been shared more than 150,000 times. “Welcome to Canada” also became a trending term in the country.
Mr Trudeau, who gained global attention for granting entry to nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees to Canada over the past 13 months, also sent a pointed tweet that showed him greeting a young refugee at a Canadian airport in 2015.
Hassan Rouhani: Now is not the time to build walls
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says it is no time to build walls between nations and has criticised steps towards cancelling world trade agreements, without naming new US President Donald Trump. His remarkscame after Trump ordered the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border and imposed tough new controls on travellers from seven Muslim countries, among them Iran. “They have forgotten that the Berlin Wall collapsed many years ago. Even if there are walls between nations, they must be removed,” Rouhani said at a tourism convention in Tehran.
Statement from President of Parliament of the World’s Religions
To our friends in the interfaith movement around the world:
We, who are your colleagues in the interfaith movement living in the United States, pray that you will not forsake us because of what some of our political leaders are doing in our nation’s name.
We need you to understand that these political leaders do not speak for us, that they are not acting on our behalf, that, yes, they represent a part of our nation’s past, but not the best of our past. In fact, they represent the worst part of our national history.
They do not stand in the lineage of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, who in a time of great national division, asked that we draw on “the better angels of our nature.”
Another of our presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, told the nation in a time of testing that “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” But even that president created internment camps and imprisoned our sisters and brothers of Japanese descent for many years. That was a blemish on our nation’s reputation.
Now we are being blemished again, this time by our current president. He is using fear to rally our fellow citizens to demonize people from particular countries and a particular religion and to keep them from entering our country “ a country, as you no doubt know, is a nation mostly of immigrants.
It is true that all of us across the world are mindful of dangers of terrorism and the need for security. But we together cannot meet that challenge by maligning and excluding one another.
So we want you to know that we oppose this tactic and this policy.
We want you to know that we honor people, like you, who come from other nations and other faith traditions.
We want you to know that we want to be in solidarity with you, when you are here with us in this country or with us, in spirit, when you are not here.
We want you to know that we need you to be patient with us while we fight the evils of fear, of xenophobia, of suspicion, of hate.
Don’t give up on us.
As one of our great leaders assured us: We shall overcome.
Larry Greenfield, Executive Director, Parliament of the World’s Religions
UN chief calls for lifting travel ban
President Donald Trump’s order to bar travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries is not the best way to protect America from terrorists and can spread “anxiety and anger”, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said and called for lifting the ban. “In my opinion this is not the way to best protect the US or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possibilities of terrorist infiltration. I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. These measures should be removed sooner rather than later,” Guterres told reporters, responding to questions on the travel and refugee ban imposed by the US.
The UN Secretary-General emphasised that it is important not to have measures that “spread anxiety and anger” because then “we help trigger the kind of recruitment mechanisms that these (global terrorist) organisations are now doing everywhere in the world,” he said. Guterres cautioned that banning people and refugees from entering other nations will not ensure that terrorists will not infiltrate as the extremist groups could circumvent measures and look at other ways to target nations and their citizens. The international community is dealing with “very sophisticated global terrorists originations”, he said, adding that if terror groups want to attack any country they will not send people with passports from “hotspots of conflict”. “They might come with passports from the most developed, credible countries or use people that have been for decades present in the country itself,” he said.
On the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees entering the US, Guterres said resettlement of refugees is in many situations the only possible solution. “The US has always been in the forefront of refugee settlement and Syrians at the present moment have more dramatic needs in the world. I strongly hope that the US will be able to reassess its very solid refugee protection in resettlement and I hope Syrians will not be excluded in that process,” he said.