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Oregon lawmakers split on party lines over immigration order

Walden cautiously supportive; Democrats join vigil

WASHINGTON - Oregon's congressional delegation split along party lines Monday in reacting to President Trump's executive action on immigration and refugees, with five Democrats joining a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court and the lone Republican cautiously supportive but seeking more details.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., issued this statement on President Trump's executive order regarding national security:

"The number one job of the President is to keep America safe. While I, too, seek additional clarity on the details of the President's plan, we need to make sure that extremists who seek to do us harm are not able to infiltrate a system designed for legitimate visitors, refugees and immigrants."

Meanwhile, five Oregon lawmakers joined their Democratic colleagues in a vigil Monday outside the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the president to reverse his executive orders that they claim amount to a ban on Muslim refugees and immigrants.

Sen. Jeff Merkley said, “The president’s ban on Muslims and refugees offends fundamental American values. We’re a nation that treasures religious freedom and religious tolerance. We’re a nation that doesn’t slam the door shut on refugees fleeing persecution and blight.”

“Moreover, the Muslim ban profoundly endangers our security by feeding the fires of ISIS propaganda promoting the idea that America is at war with Islam. It endangers all Americans,” he added.

Merkley and colleague Ron Wyden on Monday co-signed a letter from more than half of the Democratic caucus that condemns the president’s executive orders as fundamentally un-American and discriminatory.

The letter details how the president’s actions run counter to America’s values, as well as national security and economic interests.

“America is a nation of immigrants and refugees who came to these shores fleeing persecution and seeking unparalleled opportunities for freedom,” Wyden said. “Today we stand together against those who would betray both the law and our history to impose an unconstitutional religious test on immigrants. This illegal order endangers America by emboldening terrorists and undercutting our allies in the fight against ISIS. Simply put, we’re going to fight like hell against this cruel, senseless and un-American order.”

At the candlelight vigil, the Democratic caucus was joined by a number of local refugees whose stories reflect those of Oregonian refugees — fleeing violence and oppression in hopes of being embraced by a nation of immigrants.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer said, “This weekend, we all watched in horror as the immediate impacts of Donald Trump’s cruel and unjustified executive order to turn away immigrants and refugees took shape. Families are being torn apart. Innocent people are being detained. This will not stand. Together, we are fighting this injustice and will do everything we can to put a stop to this executive order.”

Hundreds of Oregonians protested in Portland International Airport over the weekend. Merkley and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici joined protesters in sending a message to the administration: Refugees and immigrants are welcome, and discriminatory policies will not be tolerated.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said, “Turning our backs on refugees betrays our American values and won’t make our country safer. The discriminatory and unconstitutional Executive Order created chaos among federal agencies over the weekend, spurred protests at PDX and across the country, and left immigrant families in crisis. I am proud to stand with my Oregon colleagues against this ban and get to work keeping our country safe and upholding the American value of religious freedom.”

The lawmakers said the overwhelming majority of refugees are women, children and families. The Portland-based nonprofit Immigrant Refugee and Community Organization in 2016 helped relocate 1,780 refugees to Oregon from Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Africa and Eastern Europe.

“To unilaterally stop visas for 90 days and refugees fleeing persecution, murder and rape for 120 days without cause, due process or justification goes against everything we hold dear in the Constitution,” Rep. Kurt Schrader said. “This president has shown absolutely no respect for or understanding of the democratic republic he supposedly represents. It is time for Congress, the constitutional lawmaking body, to assert itself. This is dangerous to our own liberty.”

Congressional leaders have reiterated the national security risks they believe the president’s executive orders create: They provide terrorist organizations with a rallying cry and recruitment tool, feeding the false narrative espoused by extremists that America is at war with Islam. 

“President Trump’s ill-conceived and unlawful executive order uses false rhetoric and preys upon Americans’ fears without doing anything to address the real terrorist threats facing our nation,” Rep. Peter DeFazio said. “Instead, it sends a dangerous message that Muslims are not welcome in America, alienates our allies, and serves as a recruiting tool for ISIS and other terrorists groups. This irresponsible action puts our nation at risk and stands in opposition to the ideals that our country was founded upon. It’s clear to me that my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle will need to work together to restrain President Trump from inflicting more damage to our country.”


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