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Cuesta in the time of Trump: Travel ban sparks dissent locally and nationally

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By Dylan Head
Staff Writer

With the signing of his highly controversial executive order temporarily banning the admittance of refugees into the United States, as well as indefinitely suspending the admittance of Syrian refugees, President Donald Trump ignited a firestorm of political dissent from many US citizens.

Thousands of activists called the order racist and antithetical to American values.

Protests erupted in more than 30 cities around the country, and demonstrators stood in support of affected visa holders stuck in many major airports, including Los Angeles and San Francisco International.

Objection to Trump’s order was also heard on a local level.

At a recent forum, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon reaffirmed her commitment to keep the city an inclusive community for people of all religions.

“Bans and walls are not who we are,” said Harmon. “We must be a force for democracy. We must resist.”

Several local businesses also opted to protest the new administration’s recent actions.

Big Sky Cafe, a popular downtown San Luis Obispo restaurant, closed its doors on Feb. 16 to participate in the national protest dubbed “Day Without Immigrants”. Novo Restaurant and Lounge, Aqueria Santa Cruz and Luna Red also closed their doors.

Businesses owned and staffed by immigrants throughout the United States closed their doors in an effort to emphasize the contributions that immigrants make in everyday life.

“I don’t see the logic behind the order,” said Rami Suleiman, a freshman civil engineering major and member of the Muslim Student Association at Cal Poly. “My dad was an immigrant, and I find it damaging to the perspective people have of my faith.”

The order, which was described by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “reasonable and necessary to protect our country,” effects some 90,000 visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to State Department statistics.

“This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” wrote Trump in a statement released to Facebook Jan. 29.

Those affected included more than 16,000 immigrants currently attending colleges in the United States, with the majority coming from Iran, according to the Institute of International Education.

“From a muslim student’s perspective, it’s a long series of ‘here we go again’ moments,” said Dr. Stephen Lloyd-Moffett, a religious studies professor and advisor to the Muslim Student Association. “So much of the goodwill cultivated by President Bush and President Obama has gone down the drain.”

In the days following the order’s rollout, many universities released statements reassuring students of their commitment to stand in opposition to these new regulations.

“When something threatens our ability to think beyond our borders and learn from the world as a whole, we will oppose it,” read a statement signed by all California State University presidents and chancellors on Jan. 30.  “When something impacts anyone in our CSU community – especially the most vulnerable – it impacts us all.”

While opposition from both the public and educational institutions remains strong, growing objection within the Justice Department may be what ultimately spelled the death blow for Trump’s plan.

On Feb. 9, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the president’s request to lift a lower court’s nationwide injunction on the immigration ban, halting any enforcement of the order.

“Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the executive order, the government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all,” the judges wrote.

While Trump’s efforts to push the executive order through have been stymied, other policy changes pushed by his administration are just as worrying for immigrant populations living in the US. However, citizens across the country are rallying to show support for their muslim friends and neighbors.

At a recent forum for local residents discussing the muslim faith, Lauren Bandari, director of the Jewish Community Center Federation of San Luis Obispo, had this message of unity:

“We would love to see all people come together, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, and watch our children play together.”

 

To read the complete articles from Cuesta in the time of Trump package check out the Cuestonian newspaper March 7.