Protest at Congregation Beth Am, Buffalo Grove Aligns with HIAS; Shows Support for Refugees


On Sunday, February 12, 2017 more than a hundred suburban residents gathered outside Congregation Beth Am, a Buffalo Grove synagogue Sunday located near Weiland Road and Abbott Court, to protest Executive Order 13769, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” — and show support for refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.

The Executive Order has been popularly called a “Muslim ban” among media sources and protesters, but the White House Administration and proponents of Executive Order 13769 have declared it is not a Muslim ban.

Executive Order 13769 — signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on January 27, 2017 — limited the number of refugee arrivals to the United States to 50,000 for 2017 and suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. The program would then be conditionally resumed for individual countries while prioritizing refugee claims from persecuted minority religions.

The order suspended the entry of foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, after which an updated list will be planned.

Executive Order 13769 allows exceptions to these suspensions on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Homeland Security later exempted U.S. lawful permanent residents (green-card holders).

Executive Order 13769 also indefinitely suspended the entry of Syrian refugees where citizens have fled Syria since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and have sought asylum in other countries. In 2016, the United Nations identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, with more than 6 million internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million outside of Syria. In August 2016, the U.S. reached a goal of admitting and resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees, after most Syrians were admitted to the U.S. May, June and July.

Turkey, which borders Syria, is home to the highest number of Syrian refugees with most living in government-run camps near the Syrian border. There were at least 22 terrorist attacks in Turkey, including the June 28, 2016 Atatürk Airport attack, and the December 19, 2016 assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov. In 2016, two bombings occurred in Ankara, five bombings occurred in Diyarbakir, and five bombings occurred in Istanbul. Turkish officials have said some attackers were acting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and had come to Turkey from ISIL-controlled Syria. Over 350 people were killed in terror acts in Turkey in 2016.

Multiple United States media sources have emphasized that the seven countries are majority-Muslim, and that no one in the United States has been killed in a terrorist attack by terrorists from the seven countries.

Executive Order 13769 was immediately protested at several United States cities and airports, and was criticized by Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

In response to a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in the case of State of Washington v. Trump, the Department of Homeland Security said on February 4, 2017 that it had stopped enforcing the portions of the executive order affected by the judgment, while the State Department activated visas that had been previously suspended. The restraining order was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 9, 2017.

Congregation Beth Am was among nearly 20 sites across the country to host rallies against the ban as part of the National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees.

The Buffalo Grove protest included remarks from U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider and Holocaust survivor Magda Brown.

Organized by HIAS, formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society formed in 1881, the nationwide event also included rallies in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, and locally in Chicago, Highland Park and Buffalo Grove. HIAS assists Jews and other groups of people whose lives and freedom are believed to be at risk to relocate.

On February 7, 2017, HIAS brought a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Maryland’s Southern Division to challenge Executive Order 13769.

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