WASHINGTON – Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Sunday defended admitting refugees banned by President Donald Trump as immigrant and human rights groups in the Chicago area plan events at Sullivan High School and in Morton Grove.
Durbin will be one of the speakers at the Sullivan event, to start at 2 p.m. Chicago time, coming a day after more than a dozen travelers were temporarily detained Saturday at O’Hare Airport, including travelers holding green cards which grants permission for permanent residence in the U.S.
Green card holders are entitled to travel to and from the U.S.
Trump last week also signed an order on another immigration front, taking his first steps to end federal assistance to Sanctuary Cities – of which Chicago is one. The other event, with sponsors including Muslim and Jewish organizations, starts at 1:45 Chicago time at the Muslim Education Center, 8601 Menard Ave, Morton Grove.
The individuals detained at O’Hare were eventually released.
Protests erupted at O’Hare, Kennedy Airport in New York and other places in reaction to Trump’s executive order, signed on Friday, barring people from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya — nations with Muslim majorities — from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
“The refugee program is the most carefully vetted program in our government,” Durbin said on FOX News Sunday, a reference to the multiple layers of scrutiny the Obama administration imposed on refugees, especially from Syria.
“Well, I can tell you what’s going on here is that he has established a target of refugees, and I don’t think that is our vulnerability. If you want to make America safe, the refugee program is the most carefully vetted program in our government,” Durbin said.
Durbin blamed the chaos and confusion at airports by officials trying to carry out Trump’s order on a lack of consultation with officials. He called Trump’s move “impulsive.”
MORE FROM DURBIN ON FOX
Durbin: “Here are three things that are wrong. First, it was an impulsive move by the president, without follow-through to the Department of Homeland Security. When we contacted Customs and Border Protection at the airports, they said, you know, they just sprung this on us. And now, we’re detaining people, some of who are legal permanent residents. So, they didn’t have clear guidance from the administration about how to make this work.
“Number two, going after these refugees — these are the most carefully vetted visitors to the United States of anyone who comes to our airports, including this ban on Syrian refugees when we have had no examples, not one, of a Syrian refugee engaged in terrorism in the United States.
And the third point — and I think this is one that’s going to haunt us for a long time — was the suggestion by the president that somehow we’re going to favor Christians, and in some cases banning Muslims in the future. That is exactly the opposite message we need to send to our allies and to those who, frankly, want to do us harm around the world”
On the same FOX program, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said, “This nonsense that this is a Muslim ban. This is a ban on travel, prospective travel from countries.”
A federal judge in New York on Saturday issued a preliminary stay on Trump’s order, in a case that will likely end up in the Supreme Court.
Trump from the Oval Office on Saturday declared the roll out of his refugee ban — intended to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S. — said, “It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely. We’ll have a very, very strict ban and we will have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”
Trump campaigned on banning Muslims from the U.S.
In a Sunday morning post on Twitter, Trump said, “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”
Hillary Clinton on Saturday night said on Twitter, “I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight defending our values & our Constitution. This is not who we are.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on ABC’s “This Week,” that at issue is 109 people.
“Look, we are working through all the diplomatic channels necessary to make that sure our friends and our allies around the globe understand that our position is to protect our borders and to make sure — and, again, this is about slowing the process down.
“Those 109 people are being processed through the system to make sure that the vetting is applied, that they didn’t do anything nefarious overseas. And I think that’s what we should be doing. We shouldn’t let people just reenter the country who are not citizens of the United States because they have gone to a place we have concerns about. They should be asked certain questions. They should go through extreme vetting to make sure that when they re-enter that they continue to do so with peaceful purposes.”
Very early Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement, “the president’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”
The DHS statement also said, “the president’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”
SULLIVAN HIGH SCHOOL EVENT
Organizers of the event at Sullivan bill it as an “event showing solidarity for and outlining the rights of Syrian and Iraqi immigrants and refugees.
The speakers include Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who on Saturday worked for the release of detainees at O’Hare; Ald. Joe Moore (49th); state Sen. Heather Steans and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Chicago Democrats, plus representatives from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the National Immigrant Justice Center , North Side Community Resources and the Syrian Community Network.
THE MORTON GROVE EVENT
From the organizers: “On Sunday, North Suburban residents of all walks of life, ages, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities, ethnicities, races, etc. are coming together to build a vision for a society based on acceptance, peace and justice for all. Participants will express their opposition to Trump’s Muslim ban and call on Chicago suburban communities to become sanctuary cities, committing not to cooperate with federal authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants.
“Co-sponsored by: Jewish Voice for Peace, the Muslim Community Center, Open Communities, Tzedek Chicago, Iglesia Episcopal Nuestra Senora de las Americas, and the Jewish Reconstuctionist Congregation of Evanston.”
DEFINITION OF A REFUGEE
According to the United Nations, “a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”