A group of organizations and elected officials in Milwaukee addressed the issue of President Trump’s Executive Orders on the Muslim and refugee ban at a press conference on January 30, held at the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

“There is nobody in this country who doesn’t take security seriously. There is nobody who doesn’t want to protect everything this country stands for. But let’s be clear about what it is were protecting. ‘Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof.’ Less than two weeks in office, our President is casually and recklessly questioning the founding principles of what makes this a great country. Everybody in this country is either an immigrant and refugee, or descended from them. That’s what makes a strong, that’s what make this country great, and that’s what makes us a beacon. Let’s not let an outrage like this become normalized.” – Chris Abele


As representatives of local Muslim, immigrant, refugee, faith and civil rights organizations, we stand in solidarity with the majority of our fellow Americans in expressing outrage at the recent Executive Order by President Donald Trump that effectively banned Muslim immigrants from 7 Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for a period of 90 days, while allowing Christian immigrants from those countries to enter, creating a religious litmus test for immigrants. The order, which was handed down on Friday, also bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and puts a halt on the resettlement of all refugees for a period of four months. Many of these refugees have spent years in the vetting process, only to have their hopes and dreams dashed by this order. Many may not survive if left in their war ravaged countries.

While the President claims that immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen, are being banned for “security” reasons, to prevent potential terrorists from entering the United States. There is no visa ban on Saudi Arabia, the country that produced the 9-11 hijackers which indicates that this is clearly motivated by religious and racial bigotry.

The world is facing one of the worst refugee crises since World War II, a ban on Muslims and refugees fleeing persecution in some of the most terrible war zones in the world will do irreparable damage to the country’s image, and our very identity. In addition, it will put our soldiers in war zones at risk. Our military counts on thousands of translators and others that will be reluctant to help us, knowing we will abandon them.

After the Japanese internment and post 9-11 registration of Arabs and Muslims, we said never again. Those programs destroyed lives, created massive distrust amongst communities and law enforcement, ripped families apart, and never resulted in a single terrorism conviction! Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Immigrants and refugees are some of our very best citizens, they are contributing members of society and they are a living testimony to our great country.

  • Janan Najeeb, Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition
  • Munjed Ahmad, Islamic Society of Milwaukee
  • Emilio De Torre, ACLU of WI
  • JoCasta Zamarripa, State Representative
  • Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Executive
  • Maruf Aldaye, Syrian Refugee
  • Smaher Aldaye, Syrian Refugee
  • Daniel Reimer, State Representative
  • Christine Neumann Ortiz, Voces De la Frontera
  • Father Philip Reifenberg
  • Dr. Jodi Melamed, President, Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Imam Noman Hussein, Islamic Society of Milwaukee

“Trump’s executive order violates the First Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits the government from preferring or disfavoring any religion. This anti-Muslim policy also violates the 14th amendment, which guarantees that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.” – Emilio De Torre

“It is shocking to be fighting for immigrants who are in our country and in our community lawfully and legally. immigrants and refugees that did everything they were supposed to do to be able to come to our country. Vetting is so thorough for refugees waiting to enter the United States, that it can take up to two years to be approved.” – JoCasta Zamarripa


The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation opposes President Trump’s executive orders that would stop entry for refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, halt federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” and expand detention for immigrants and asylum seekers.

Guided by our history as refugees and our shared biblical and prophetic mandate to protect and welcome the stranger, the American Jewish community has always been a stakeholder in refugee resettlement and protection. Moreover, the moral concept of sanctuary for those who fear death at the hands of repressive regimes is ingrained in the Jewish tradition.

Throughout our history, the United States has been a beacon of hope for persecuted people. Resettled refugees have a historical track record of embracing American values and boosting the economies of the communities where they settle. Now, when there are more refugees in the world than at any other time in recorded history, we cannot betray some of our country’s most basic values.

“This action is troubling not only because of its treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers,” said JCRC Chair Michael Pollack, “but for its effect of instilling fear and insecurity among existing immigrant communities.”

JCRC Director Elana Kahn said, “We understand the complex issues of national security. They must be addressed in a reasonable and compassionate way without undermining one of our nation’s core purposes, providing a home for immigrants.”

The JCRC speaks as the representative voice of the Milwaukee Jewish community on issues of public affairs and public policy.

“There is no us and them. There is only us. Ordinary people have tremendous power to make a difference during this pivotal time, to speak out against Trump’s un-American orders, to speak up for religious freedom, and to speak to the Muslims, immigrants, and refugees in our community to let them know we’ve got their back.” – Daniel Riemer

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Lee Matz