As the White House unveils one unhappy surprise after another, it’s easy to forget the outrages that remain unresolved. In January and March, President Trump signed executive orders broadly known as the Muslim ban or the travel ban. The orders seek to bar foreign nationals from majority-Muslim countries (seven in the original order; six in the second) from entering the United States.
The ban is blocked for now, but the federal court decisions that ordered its halt have been appealed by the Trump administration. The first of those appeals, in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court, was argued a week ago. The second, in the 9th Circuit, is to be heard Monday.
When Trump signed the original ban, chaos ensued. Millions of Americans took to the streets and crowded airport terminals in protest. We came together in those days and weeks; it didn’t matter how we prayed, where we were from or how we had voted. We were united in our opposition to a threat to American diversity, our immigrant history, our democracy and our Constitution. We stood together.
I live in Irvine with my family and thousands of other American citizens of Iranian descent. I came to this country as an immigrant and a refugee of war, and I have never taken for granted the opportunities America represents. All across the country, Iranian Americans have worked to better their communities, participating in all walks of civic life. But because Iran is one of the countries targeted by Trump’s ban, we now face persecution and separation from family and friends in our native country. Should the president’s bigoted agenda stand, they will all be treated as would-be terrorists.
I am thankful that America’s judicial branch has stepped in to provide an essential check on the president’s abuse of power and to protect immigration and travel policies that are not based on religion, national origin or ethnic heritage. We can be grateful that our system of checks and balances has worked, and yet our most representative branch of government — the legislative branch — has been glaringly silent.
Congress could end Trump’s Muslim ban tomorrow if lawmakers had the political will and moral fortitude to do their jobs. Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would rescind the president’s executive order and put a permanent halt to the fear and uncertainty this administration has unleashed.
Californians can be proud of the role that some of our lawmakers have played on this front. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein is the lead author of the bill to end the Muslim ban, and Kamala Harris is a cosponsor of the legislation. In the House, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D - San Jose) is the author of legislation to repeal and defund the ban.
Unfortunately, although nearly every Democrat in Congress has endorsed these bills, not a single Republican has had the courage to stand up to the president and sign on to any of this legislation. That includes the entire congressional delegation from Orange County, who have decided to play politics instead of doing what is right for the country.
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) has not uttered a word to clearly indicate where she stands on the legislation or the ban itself. All Reps. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista) could muster was tepid criticism of the original ban’s implementation. Royce, as chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, could press for hearings to assess the impact of the executive order on U.S. foreign policy or national security — but he hasn’t.
As an American citizen and Southern California resident, I should have my rights and interests represented by my elected officials. But instead of supporting voters like me in their districts, these politicians are protecting the president and enabling his discriminatory policies.
I am a voter in the 45th Congressional District. In 2018, Walters, my member of Congress, will be up for reelection. I have two simple questions for her: Will you stand up for Trump or for voters like me? Will you work to undo one of the ugliest episodes in modern American history? If you decide to turn your back on your constituents who see the Muslim ban for what it is, we will do everything it takes to make sure you are not reelected.
Farshad Farahat was a costar in the Academy Award-winning film “Argo.” He is a member of the National Iranian American Council and is completing his doctorate in conflict resolution.
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