A group of nearly 200 people gathered at the Islamic Center of Naperville to attend a discussion hosted by Congressman Bill Foster on the executive orders restricting refugees and banning citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US.
“While the president claims these actions are in the best interest of national security, he seems unwilling to grasp the fact that zero people have been killed in terrorist attacks on American soil by immigrants from the seven countries affected by his executive order,” said Congressman Foster, a Democrat representing the 11th District in Illinois. “What’s more, the rollout of this executive order has been complete disaster, leading to chaos at major airports across the country, and causing unnecessary pain for innocent families.”
Panelists included local Muslim leaders, an immigration attorney and several people who have experienced discrimination since the executive orders went into effect.
“I’m asking you to educate yourselves and ask questions and bring back justice, stand up to the hatred and remind others that this country was built on valuing all of humanity. So together is how we make America great. Please recognize that this rhetoric of hatred and ‘Islamaphobia’ is not just affecting immigrants but citizens with deep roots and service in this country,” said Samia, a student in Naperville.
Other panelists shared personal stories of the process and oftentimes struggles involved in coming to the US from many Muslim countries, even before the ban was put in place.
“When you are from a Muslim country, in order to get a visa to just come visit the US, for a vacation, for medical reasons or just for visiting family that resides in the United States, you go through interviews and a vetting process which can take several months,” said Noura Al-Masri, a Syrian immigrant and Operations Manager at the Syrian Forum.
And while the ban is currently halted, many were encouraged by the response of the community when they felt there was injustice.
“But out of the ugliness, what we have seen in the recent weeks is something beautiful has come out,” said former President of the Islamic Center of Naperville, Aadil Farid. “The Americans in great numbers have come together, and gathered at various different places, at the places of worship, at the airports, at other places, and really have come together to stand up for what is right. What is just and what are American values.”
Audience members got to ask questions at the end of the discussion, many of which were focused on potential next steps.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.