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Local legislators weigh-in on Trumps travel ban
Trump travel ban pic
Reem Alrubaye, of Fremont, Calif., places flowers on the floor as she waits for her mother Mason Jadoaa to return from a visit to Baghdad, Iraq, at San Francisco International Airport on Monday in San Francisco. President Donald Trump's executive order bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. - photo by AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 27 which temporarily bans travel from seven Muslim-majority countries has prompted protests and confusion around the country and locally. Though some have praised the executive order, amid questions of its legality and the manner in which it was implemented, local legislators both Democrat and Republican alike have expressed their skepticism and concern publicly.

President Trump cited national security concerns when he signed the order which bans travel from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia for 90 days, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and bars refugees fleeing the war in Syria from entry to the U.S. indefinitely. Turlock, which has become home to over 1,800 refugees since Oct. 1, 2011, is also home to Congressman Jeff Denham, who seemed hesitant of Trump’s use of executive orders. Though Denham has not released an official statement on the travel ban, he contributed his thoughts to the conversation through a Facebook post on Sunday.

“The safety and security of our communities always come first, but the way this recent executive order is playing out has created a lot of uncertainty and unintended consequences,” Denham wrote. “As we have seen with previous administrations, EOs are not the way to resolve ongoing problems.”

The post has amassed nearly 200 comments in the days since it appeared, with a majority of commenters urging Denham and his fellow members of Congress to stand up against Trump regarding the critical issue.

“… Be on the right side of history. No bans, no walls, no hate,” wrote Marie Russell. “You are better than this. We are better than this.”

A majority of Turlock’s refugees – around 35 to 40 percent – are special immigrant visa holders. These refugees are primarily men who have worked alongside U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as translators or interpreters. Most interpreters face direct threats on their lives as a result of their work, and the visa program offers them a new life in the U.S. in return. Special immigrant visa holders who had not yet arrived in the U.S. before Friday are now barred entry, according to President Trump’s executive order.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spoke out against the executive order on Saturday.

“Justice in America doesn’t live or die on the stroke of one man’s pen regardless of how high his office,” said Becerra. “The Trump Administration’s anti-religion, anti-refugee executive order is in so many ways unjust and anti-American. It discriminates against human beings based on their faith. It denies entry to those with proven and legitimate fears of death and persecution. It tramples on centuries of American tradition.”

In his statement, Becerra added that he and his team are searching for every avenue possible to defend and aid those affected by the order.

On Monday, California State Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes responded to the executive order as well.

“Religious liberty is a core value of our nation,” said Mayes. “My ancestors immigrated to America to flee religious persecution. While bolstering our national security is important, when forced to decide between security and liberty, I will always side with liberty.”

The strict new measures of the executive order were implemented to prevent domestic terror attacks, giving the Trump Administration time to review existing security procedures for immigrants entering the country. But, according to the International Refugee Committee, refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group to enter the U.S.

The resettlement process can take up to 36 months and involves screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center/U.S. Intelligence Community. Refugees undergo biographic and biometric checks, medical screening, forensic document testing and in-person interviews, while Syrian refugees are subjected to an additional layer of screening.

The halt in the resettlement program may force refugees who already went through the rigorous screening process and who were set to arrive in the U.S. soon to instead wait months or years to go through the security checks all over again.

The California State University system spoke out Monday as well, with the Chancellor’s Office releasing a statement signed by each of the CSU’s presidents and administration.

“We are deeply troubled by President Trump’s recent executive order that stands in stark contrast to the fundamental tenets of the California State University. We believe in the free exchange of ideas globally, central to which is our ability to welcome and interact with those from around the world,” said the statement. “When something threatens our ability to think beyond our borders and learn from the world as a whole, we will oppose it. When something impacts anyone in our CSU community – especially the most vulnerable – it impacts us all. Therefore, we oppose the divisiveness of the recent executive order, and we stand with state and national officials in requesting that the President reconsider this policy.”

Though the executive order is still in place, Saturday night a federal judge granted an emergency stay for citizens of the affected countries who had already arrived in the U.S. and those who are in transit and hold valid visas, ruling they can legally enter the U.S.