By Doug Porter
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a statement on Tuesday indicating his disapproval of the executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries where President Donald Trump’s companies do not have investments.
Though milder in tone than statements by mayors in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle (some of whom have actually joined protests), Faulconer’s statement does recognize that individuals affected by the order are essential parts of the community.
In making the statement, Faulconer sidestepped a potentially thorny confrontation with supporters of an online petition who were using his silence to promote the idea of San Diego declaring itself a sanctuary city.
The Immigrant Reality in San Diego
There are still good reasons for pushing local elected officials to further commit to opposing the tone and intent of the Trump administration’s proclamations and actions concerning followers of the Islamic faith.
The San Diego metropolitan area has the fourth highest concentration of residents born in the seven countries covered in the Trump administration’s travel ban and refugee resettlement executive order, according to an article published by the Brookings Institute.
Census Department data used in the publication indicates slightly more that twelve residents out of a thousand locally were born in Iran (10,700), Iraq (24,400), Libya (n/a*), Somalia (2,400), Sudan (300), Syria 1,100), and Yemen (100).
(*Libyan-born individuals are not identified separately in the Census Bureau data)
From the Brookings Institute blog:
For now, the executive order remains focused on seven Muslim-majority countries, but White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated on Sunday that the ban could be expanded: “Perhaps other countries needed to be added to an executive order going forward….”
Calls to Action
On Tuesday, the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference to announce the formation of a “Forum on Religious Freedom” in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.
Over twenty organizations throughout the region have pledged to work together to educate residents and support those who may be affected by the order.
From the Times of San Diego:
“I come before you with a broken heart. My heart is broken as I look upon the country that has been my home and that I love,” said Bishop James Mathes of the San Diego dioceses of the Episcopal Church. “This is not who we are. We are better than this. Who can be against religious freedom?”
Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, said her organization was standing up with its Muslim brothers and sisters because standing down was not an option.
“Bowing down is not an option in a time such as we’re living, where our very constitutional principles — the freedom of religion, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech — are at stake,” Guerrero said. “When we have a president who dares to try to strip those things away from us, who seeks to divide us, who seeks to exclude us, we must stand up.”
A town hall meeting is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the San Diego Islamic Center in Clairemont.
The Leichtag Foundation, along with the San Diego chapters of the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Family Service, and the Jewish Federation are sponsoring a public talk titled Immigrants and Refugees, A Call to Action on Thursday at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla.
From their Facebook announcement:
At the gathering, we’ll engage with rabbis and thought leaders and then community members will be able to take action on-site with stations geared to various meaningful steps you can take to support refugees.
Official and Unofficial Actions
The executive order on immigration has prompted –at best– questionable responses from the federal agencies tasked with enforcing it.
Officials in Los Angeles and Virginia have ignored judicial rulings concerning access to attorneys and stays of deportation. A statement from the Department of Homeland Security on those refusals was interpreted by some as an attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the Constitution.
NBC7 reports permanent residents from the seven countries are being pressured into signing I-407 forms without understanding they are forfeiting their residency.
There are (unconfirmed as of yet) reports of Border Patrol agents in City Heights and other neighborhoods randomly stopping people and demanding to see proof of citizenship.
Senator Ted Cruz has introduced legislation aimed at having civil rights groups (like CAIR) in the United States advocating on behalf of Muslims and Arab-Americans tarred with the brush of terrorism.
Here Comes the ‘List’
The Washington Post reported on a draft executive order circulating among officials concerning further steps on immigration.
The order calls for agencies to develop programs for deporting immigrants if they or their dependents receive government subsidized programs like Medicaid or Food Stamps within five years of their arrival. Sponsors of refugees deported would be required to reimburse the government for the cost of any benefits received.
And then there is this (emphasis added):
The order weighs how to make the country’s immigration program “more merit based,” calls for site visits at companies that employ foreign workers, and tasks the Department of Homeland Security with producing a report twice a year on the total number of foreign-born people — not just nonimmigrant visa holders — who are authorized to work in the United States.
Airbrushing the Holocaust
Muslims and Arab Americans are not the only groups fearing the Trump administration.
The omission of any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism in the White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was a slight that did not go unnoticed.
Anti-Defamation League Director Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the “@WhiteHouse statement on #HolocaustMemorialDay, misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just ‘innocent people'” and “Puzzling and troubling @WhiteHouse #HolocaustMemorialDay stmt has no mention of Jews. GOP and Dem. presidents have done so in the past.”
Asked about the White House explanation that the President didn’t want to exclude any of the other groups Nazis killed by specifically mentioning Jews, Greenblatt told CNN that the United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only because of Holocaust denial but also because so many countries — Iran, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, for example — specifically refuse to acknowledge Hitler’s attempt to exterminate Jews, “opting instead to talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what is was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people.”
Downplaying or disregarding the degree to which Jews were targeted for elimination during the Holocaust is a common theme of nationalist movements like those seen in Russia and Eastern Europe, Greenblatt said.
The Trump administration includes individuals who have been or are associated with so-called alt-right and nationalist movements in the United States.
From Chauncey DeVega at Salon:
Now a White House strategist, Bannon formerly ran Breitbart News, a right-wing propaganda website closely identified with white nationalist views. Breitbart has frequently featured stories about “black crime,” rampaging Muslim hordes, the perils of “diversity” and “political correctness” and outrageous tales of crimes committed by immigrants. Bannon has called Breitbart a “leading platform for the alt-right,” a loose umbrella term that’s being used to rebrand various varieties of racists and white supremacists.
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s former publication has promoted the essays of Richard Spencer.
From the Israel-based Haaretz.com:
For Richard Spencer, the leading ideologue of the so-called “alt-right,” Donald Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism was an important, perhaps revolutionary, step.
Spencer dubbed it the “de-Judaification” of the Holocaust.
Jewish activists, Spencer wrote in a short post for his new website Altright.com, have long insisted on making the Holocaust “all about their meta-narrative of suffering” and a way to “undergird their peculiar position in American society.”
It’s little wonder then that domestic anti-semitic groups have become more aggressive in recent months.
Bomb Threats to Jewish Community Centers
On Tuesday, a third wave of bomb threats was anonymously called in to Jewish Community Centers in 10 states. Previous threats involved 27 Jewish centers in 17 states on January 18 and 16 centers in nine states on January 9.
The FBI issued a statement on January 18, and repeated it yesterday, saying federal officials were investigating possible civil rights violations stemming from the threats.
The latest bunch of threats got some coverage locally because the Jewish community center in La Jolla was among those receiving the calls.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The center issued an alert to parents of children who were at the center, saying they are safe but could be picked up at La Jolla Country Day School on Genesee Avenue, if the parent had valid identification. All programs at the center were suspended temporarily, the alert said.
Faux News Faux Terrorism
A French-Canadian white guy with a right-wing attitude walked into a Mosque in Quebec on Sunday night and started shooting people. When he left, six people were dead and five seriously wounded.
The fear mongers at Fox News misidentified the suspect as a man of Moroccan origin. It took pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office before the news network corrected the error two days later.
And then there’s this, via CBC News:
Press secretary Sean Spicer began his daily briefing with news that the president had offered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau his country’s condolences, prayers and any law-enforcement help Canada might need.
Then came a political point — one that glossed over the fact that in the case of the Quebec mosque massacre, the victims were Muslims, and they were allegedly shot and killed by a reported fan of President Donald Trump.
“It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant. And why the president is taking steps to be proactive, not reactive,” Spicer said Monday.
Birds of a feather…
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.