On Friday, January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that contradicts everything our nation holds dear. The “Muslim Ban” severely restricts travel and immigration from seven majority Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely. The order — which is grounded in Islamophobia and xenophobia — also grants Customs and Border Patrol agents “discretionary authority” to detain and question U.S. citizens from the seven countries. In doing so, it is an invitation for racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.
Over the weekend, while defending the action, President Trump said there would be exceptions to the order and named persecuted Christians in the Middle East: “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue.” In doing so, he set up a clear preference for religion and stated in both words and policy that our nation values the lives of Christians over the lives of any other persecuted group around the world.
As an organization dedicated to justice and inclusion, Just Communities opposes this executive order and invites all those who believe in justice and equity to do the same.
Since the moment this land became the United States of America, we have always struggled to live up to the creed laid out by our founders. We have never fully lived up to the ideals we hold as our core values — the belief that all people are created equal, that all people are endowed with inalienable rights, the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. Whether it be the attempted genocide of this continent’s First Nations, slavery, Jim Crow, the denial of rights to people of color, to women, to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, and those with disabilities, we have too often made decisions as a nation based not on our higher ideals, but our basest fears.
But there have always been those who stood on the side of justice, and there have always been moments of clarity and progress. Our goal should be to continue that progress, not retreat from it. We recently celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who, in paraphrasing the words of Theodore Parker, said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But it has never bent on its own. It has always taken hard work on the part of our nation’s people to bend our country’s moral arc, and it will take incredible work right now. This is why Just Communities applauds the work of those protesting in the streets on January 21, of those protesting in airports all weekend, of those lawyers who volunteered their time to advocate for those detained in airports across the country this weekend, and of those judges who enacted the stay against this weekend’s executive order.
Just Communities urges all members of our communities across the Central Coast to not give in to calls for hate and fear. To not give in to the idea that one group of people’s lives have more value than another. We urge all of us to renew our commitment to do all we can to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. To acknowledge the humanity of all people. To renew our commitment to the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. To renew our commitment to welcome the stranger. And to renew our commitment to Emma Lazarus’s words, so poignantly described on the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
For those looking for resources or how to get involved you can:
• Contact Just Communities at (805) 966-2063 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.just-communities.org
• Check out this list of local nonprofits doing great work compiled by The Santa Barbara Independent:
• Contact your local representative to get involved. You can find yours here:
Jarrod Schwartz is executive director of Just Communities.