Dozens of demonstrators converged on New Orleans City Hall on Monday for a second day of demonstrations against President Donald Trump's far-reaching executive order halting the admission of new refugees from war-torn Syria and suspending immigration from several other Muslim-majority countries.
The rally, the second in two days, came as some local religious leaders, including Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond, expressed outrage at the president's directive, condemning it as antithetical to humanitarian and American principles.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, called the order "immoral," while City Councilman Jason Williams described it as "unconstitutional."
"President Trump's discriminatory travel ban will make our country less safe because it will further alienate us from Muslim allies in the fight against terrorism and extremism," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.
"New Orleans will remain a welcoming city because we know that our diversity is a strength," he said. "We also know all too well what it feels like to seek shelter and refuge in a place that is not your home."
Williams and Landrieu are Democrats, like Richmond.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Monday blasted President Donald Trump's executive order banning refu…
However, Trump's order was largely supported by Louisiana's mostly Republican congressional delegation.
Sen. John Kennedy said the United States has the "right to control its border," adding that it would be "stupid to let people who want to hurt us into our country."
"We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws," Kennedy said. "I support the following rule: If you want to come to America, you have to be rigorously vetted to make sure you are not a terrorist, regardless of your religion or country of origin."
The president's executive order, signed Friday, imposed a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by foreign nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and it suspended the country's refugee program for 120 days as the Trump administration revises immigration procedures. The order also indefinitely blocked the entry into the United States of anyone from Syria, including those fleeing that country's brutal civil war.
In the meantime, foreign students like Norahyr Vartanian, 28, of Iraq, have been left in limbo, unable to visit their families or leave the country without knowing when — or whether — they would be allowed to return. Vartanian, who is pursuing a master of business administration degree at Tulane University, said the actions mean he will not be able to complete his final semester in China, as he had planned.
"Seeking a quality education and security is what inspired me to stay in this country all of those years, especially being away from my parents, who still live in Baghdad," said Vartanian, who has lived in the U.S. since 2008. "Our predecessors have fought so hard to keep this country great, and we just need to keep this fight going for our future generations."
Ramun Murad already knew there would be uncertainty in his future as he prepares to graduate…
Mummi Ibrahim, a criminal defense attorney in New Orleans who was born in Sudan, said she finds herself in a similar predicament, which she attributed to "hate, and no other reason." Despite years of paying taxes, she said, she realized last week "that if I left the country, I may not be able to come back."
"The only thing that may potentially save me — and it's still unclear — is that I have Canadian citizenship in addition to my Sudanese citizenship," she added. "This is home for us, too."
Monday's demonstration came a day after placard-toting protesters gathered at City Hall and Louis Armstrong International Airport. The crowd Sunday in front of City Hall — the New Orleans Police Department estimated there were 250 participants — also marched and chanted through the Central Business District, crossing Poydras Street and briefly halting traffic.
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump's immigration order sowed more chaos and outrage acro…
The reaction throughout much of New Orleans contrasted sharply with the support voiced by a number of Republican lawmakers from Louisiana, some of whom were outspoken critics of President Barack Obama's immigration policies.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, described Trump's executive order as the fulfillment of a campaign promise that is necessary to shield the United States from the so-called Islamic State and its efforts to "infiltrate" refugee programs.
"Let's look at this, take a pause and see if we can put real vetting in place to protect America from terrorists," Scalise, R-Jefferson, said Sunday in an interview with Fox News.
However, several religious leaders in New Orleans said Trump's order sent the wrong message. Aymond said the Trump administration's actions on immigration "do not support our Catholic principles."
The Catholic church, he said, teaches "that people have the right to move to provide for a better life for themselves and their families."
"We have never advocated to open our borders indiscriminately, but we are called to live out this teaching with open hearts and to accompany those who are lawfully seeking a new life in a new land without discriminating by race, creed or religion," Aymond added.
Rabbi Alexis Berk of Touro Synagogue called Trump's order an "unacceptable case of pure prejudice" that feels hauntingly familiar to many Jewish families who sought to flee persecution in Germany only to be denied entry into the United States.
"For the Jewish community, this is an echo of something so painful and so recent, and the fact that we're going through this from a government that's our own feels just agonizing, outrageous, powerless and really painful," Berk said in an interview Monday.
Berk added, however, that she was heartened by the demonstrations this week in New Orleans.
"This is not a community where we pray about things and hope they get better," she said. "It's about manifesting the very morality we aspire to achieve. We'll have to figure out how to do that in a very hostile environment."