some concrete ways to respond to the executive order banning refugees

Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 70 years ago on January 27th, Auschwitz was liberated. I was thinking about this as I was walking home from work. I walk past Brown University’s Hillel on my walk. Yesterday, there was an armed police officer standing guard outside the entrance. I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know for sure if the cop was standing guard because Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that anti-semites would target Jews with violence, but I’m guessing that’s the case. Probably the most effective memorial I saw was this twitter account which read out the names of Jewish refugees who were denied entry into the United States in 1939 and were forced to return to Europe, where they were killed.

My name is Regina Blumenstein. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz


— St. Louis Manifest (@Stl_Manifest) January 28, 2017

Yesterday was also the day that President Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from entering the United States, including those who have been completely vetted. The order further bans entry or re-entry to 500,000 visa-holders and green card holders (legal, permanent residents!) from seven majority-Muslim nations on the flimsy pretext of “9/11!” (none of the 9/11 attackers were from those seven nations). Finally, as if that all wasn’t bad enough, the order establishes a religious tests for future refugees. Trump has explicitly stated this was aimed to help Christians. Vox has a useful breakdown of what the order does here. Duck of Minerva has a more pointed take here: “Trump to Omran: Die, Kid.” The order may well be illegal under the 1965 Immigration Act and CAIR is filing a suit challenging it on constitutional, religious freedom grounds. The International Refugee Assistance Project has filed suit specifically on behalf of two refugees who were en route when the order was signed and who were denied admission to the US.

To recap: on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the President ordered a ban on refugees based on religion. This is exactly as bad as it sounds. What can we do about it? Below are a few of my immediate thoughts. Please post your own ideas and plans in the comments.

Sign a petition. The petition site is still open and there’s a relevant petition here. As a warning, there have been some issues with the site in the past few days, though insiders think they are due to incompetence, not malice. There is also a petition for academics with an impressive list of signatories that has been circulating widely and has received some press coverage. Add you name by emailing by filling in this form. So far 36 sociologists have signed. We can do better.

Contact your representative and senators and ask them to speak out against the ban. As far as I can tell, not a single Republican has spoken out publicly against the order and I’ve only seen statements from a few Democrats. Remember that as recently as last year, the GOP opposed a Muslim ban. If you’ve never called before, this guide from Indivisible is fantastic. One of my Senators is having a listening event tomorrow. I’ll be there, and I will try to raise this issue.

Donate to organizations that are fighting against the ban. In this case, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the International Refugee Assistance Project are already taking the lead.

Write an op-ed or letter to the editor opposing the ban. The Op-Ed project has submission information for hundreds of newspapers. It’s easy, and it matters, especially for local papers that might not get as much attention.

What else should we be doing?

Author: Dan Hirschman

I am a sociologist interested in the use of numbers in organizations, markets, and policy. For more info, see here.

10 thoughts on “some concrete ways to respond to the executive order banning refugees”

  1. Dan, I was writing a post, too! I’ll put a chunk of it here, so it’s all one conversation:

    So, what can you do?

    1. Act as a citizen. Call your representatives, and call the leaders of the movement. Don’t give them a moment’s peace. If their voicemails are full, you can fax their offices (try the free online fax tool I’ll get you started: Mitch McConnell’s fax number is 1-202-224-2499 and Paul Ryan’s fax number is 202-225-2012. Once you have a letter written, why not fax it to both your own senators and your congressmember?

    2. Act collectively. I promise you, the leaders of movements you care about are working on a strategic actions that you can join. What will they look like? Sitting in at local post offices? Heading to federal buildings? Vigils in town squares? I don’t know, but I know I don’t have to make it up myself, because the people who have been doing the work all along will figure it out. Here is a chance to let the black women organizing #BLM step forward to lead, to listen to the brilliant women who organized the Women’s March last weekend (recall that Linda Sarsour, one of the co-leaders, is the director of the Arab American Association of New York. Do you think she hasn’t got a plan?) Give them a moment to put the actions together, and then follow their lead. Look for something local to participate in.

    3. Educate. Your students may not read the news. Let them know what is going on. Make yourself available to campus organizers.

    There can be no business as usual while this order is in effect. I hope that we can find our voices and make our representatives lives uncomfortable enough for them to act.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks for this, Dan and Tina. It helps to have concrete suggestions about how to respond when event seem overwhelming. After a little research (Charity Navigator, 990s), I just donated to the National Immigration Law Center, another one of the first suit-filers.

    It’s worth nothing that NILC and the International Refugee Assistant Project are not large organizations — their budgets are in the $3-5 million range — so modest donations may actually make a difference.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Also, recent events have really brought home in a new way the underrepresentation of large states in the Senate. It’s nearly impossible to even get through to Schumer or Gillibrand because they represent 20 million people — vs. > 3m for the 20 smallest states. (But Dan, whose senators represent just over a million, should definitely keep calling.)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Heck, you don’t even need to know your representative’s fax numbers. I see that has a handy link to the faxes of all members of Congress and Senate right on its homepage. They will send five free faxes per day, which is perfect to get your thoughts to Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, your two Senators and your Congressmember.


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