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TONIGHT: Vigil at JFK Airport to Protest Trump’s Executive Orders Targeting Muslims and Refugees

Tonight, the day after the anniversary of Holocaust Remembrance Day, hundreds of New Yorkers will join Jewish community leaders, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, immigrants’ rights organizations, and local elected officials to condemn President Trump’s executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program and the entry into the U.S. of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries and to affirm solidarity with refugees and immigrants who seek safety and opportunity in this country.

What: Vigil to condemn President Trump’s executive orders targeting immigrants and refugees.
A Havdalah ritual will be led by Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, Keren Soffer Sharon and Julia Salazar, followed by speeches.

When: 6 p.m. tonight, Saturday Jan. 28

Where: JFK International Airport, Terminal 4 Arrivals, Outer Roadway.

Speakers include:
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee
Councilmember Mark Levine, Chair of the Jewish Caucus
Councilmember Brad Lander
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, HIAS
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union
Yasmine Farhang, Attorney, Make the Road New York
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
Murad Awawdeh, Director of Political Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition
Jewish Voices for Peace
Lori Adams, Managing Attorney, Human Rights First
MPower Change
Ben Wellington, Pratt Institute

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union: “The United States is not a country that should stand for religious discrimination and for putting the lives of vulnerable children at risk during the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. President Trump’s ban on the entry of people from Muslim countries and suspension of the entire U.S. refugee program goes against everything this country represents from the very day it was founded.”

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca: “We are outraged today. First they came for the Jews and the Christians and now they are coming for Muslims. NOT on our watch and NOT in our City. We stand in solidarity against this illegal and immoral action which is counter to our deeply held American values. Since the founding of this country, refugees have sought refuge here- drawn to our shores and the liberty and freedoms it offers. This must be our enduring cry- that all are welcome! Tonight we stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters as we remember the Holocaust and its human cost. The lesson for us today is the necessity to for people of conscience to take action against hate and protect our Muslim brothers and sisters. Solidaridad.”

Councilmember Mark Levine: “President Trump’s heartless refugee ban runs counter to the interest and values of our nation and our city. These actions are painfully reminiscent of the treatment of Jewish refugees fleeing the horrors of Nazism who were refused entry to the United States on similarly baseless grounds. The fact that refugees are today being detained in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty is almost too painful to bear.”

Councilmember Brad Lander: “Yesterday, as we observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remembered the 937 passengers fleeing the Nazi Third Reich aboard the St. Louis, almost all Jews, who were refused entry to the United States in their hour of need. They were forced to return to Europe, where many were killed in the Holocaust. When we say ‘Never Again!, do we really mean it? As a Jew and as an American, I stand in fierce resistance to this unconstitutional, Islamophobic, hateful Muslim ban. Tonight, as we light the braided Havdalah candle, we must acknowledge that our fates are all wound together.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer: “There is nothing – nothing – more un-American than a ban on refugees and immigrants rooted in religious and racial distrust and fear. The people working for Mr. Trump can dress this up however they like and can claim this is about security, but we know what this is: it is bowing to – and stoking – fear, prejudice, hate, and scapegoating. This action would be odious no matter the date. But on Holocaust Remembrance Day of all days, to ban refugees and immigrants because of who they are and where they are from is to show the most depraved indifference to history and our need to live our values.”

Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, HIAS: “We are outraged and devastated that President Trump just closed America’s doors to refugees. This will not make us safer and is a betrayal of our Jewish and American values and history. We are commanded to love the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. We stand with today’s refugees.”

Leslie Ben and Miles Wellington, citizen organizers, Brooklyn: “The idea of applying a religious test to those seeking refugee status in the United States is unequivocally un-American. To do this on Holocaust Remembrance Day is an insult to the lives that could have been saved had the world stood up against hate. We woke up this morning with a sense that we must join together to not just say never again, but to act.”

Steven Choi, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition: “We are at JFK Airport today as refugees, visa-holders, and immigrants are being harassed, detained, questioned, and refused entry. We are outraged and horrified by the blatant religious discrimination that is being mandated by President Trump’s executive orders. Already, less than 24 hours since the signing of the executive order, mothers and fathers are not being able to reunite with their families, visa holders are not being allowed to go back to school or work, and refugees who are fleeing persecution are being told to get back on planes. This is not who are as a nation. The United States is meant to be a shining light on the hill, a country that draws our strength from religious tolerance and diversity of opinions. Mr. Trump’s decision to impose a religious test on those seeking to come to our country is a betrayal of the values this country aspires to fulfill.”

Audrey Sasson, Executive Director, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice: “We are outraged and heartbroken by the cruel and unconstitutional measures taken by the Trump administration in banning immigrants and refugees from our shores. As a multi-racial, multi-ethnic Jewish organization, we stand with our Muslim and Arab neighbors in resisting, with all our hearts and with every fiber of our collective being, the Islamophobia and xenophobia that is fueling this effort. We know that our safety lies in true and meaningful solidarity, not in white-supremacist fear mongering and race-baiting. We demand the release of the immigrants who are currently being detained at JFK and for an immediate end to the Muslim ban.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace: “This executive order is a travesty and we all have to resist it in every way we can. Turning away refugees and immigrants seeking safety and opportunity goes against all of our basic values. These policies will tear apart lives, families and communities. People’s lives are at stake. We pledge to do everything to protect and defend people’s rights and call on our elected officials to do the same.”

Eleanor Acer, Senior Director, Refugee Protection, Human Rights First: “The Trump administration should rescind this ill-considered order. The order targets vulnerable Syrian and other refugees, Iraqis who have put their lives on the line for the United States, and other immigrants and travelers from Muslim majority countries. This counterproductive approach not only hurts U.S. national security interests, it is not necessary. Refugees are already extremely thoroughly vetted and any enhancements to screenings can be added without the chaos and injustice we are now witnessing.”

Mohammad Khan, Campaign Manager, MPower Change: “Donald Trump’s executive order—the beginnings of his Muslim ban—is not only illegal and unconstitutional, it is deeply morally wrong. Today, many have gathered here at JFK to condemn his actions, and we will continue to reject any policies that target people based on their religion or where they come from.”

Yasmine Farhang, Attorney, Make the Road New York: “As an Iranian American, and immigration attorney, I know first hand how detrimental this order is. My own family have come here as people seeking asylum, green card holders, and on tourist visas to visit loved ones whom they haven’t seen in years. This order is unconditional, unconscionable, will harm people fleeing fear in their home countries and keep families separated.”

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