Michigan to feel impact of immigration ban

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

President Trump’s executive order to temporarily suspend immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries has prompted outrage and praise across the country — but some say no community will feel the impact more than here in Metro Detroit.

President Donald Trump smiles after signing three executive actions in the Oval Office, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington.

Since the community is home to one of the largest concentration of Muslims in the nation, thousands of residents will feel the consequences, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Michigan.

“Tens of thousands of residents here have family members in those (seven) countries in which their loved ones will not be able to visit for family gatherings, medical procedures, much less those who are fleeing war and terror,” Walid said.

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid

He added that Trump’s actions are “antithetical to the stated values of our nation.”

“America has traditionally been the land to open its arms to the world,” Walid said. “This man’s actions are lowering the stature of our nation that has been seen as a beacon of hope and opportunity, including in the Muslim world.”

Trump’s executive order, issued Friday, made major and temporary changes to the nation’s immigration policies. Among the controversial provisions is the end of visas for Syrian nationals and processing of Syrian refugees until security changes are made; a four-month suspension of the nation’s broader refugee program and the number of refugees anually admitted to the U.S. was cut by more than half, to 50,000.

Trump also suspended immigration for 90 days from countries with terrorism concerns including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Lawsuits were planned or filed by organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union - which filed a suit Saturday on behalf of two Iraqi men on their way to the U.S. on immigrant visas. The national Council on American-Islamic Relations planned to challenge the constitutionality of the ban with more than 20 individuals, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

A U.S. judge, Royal Oak-born Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn, temporarily blocked the Trump administration from deporting refugees and visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen after an emergency hearing Saturday night.

Meanwhile, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel posted a statement Saturday that broadly explored the interest of the international community and undocumented students — but also said the university will supports students regardless of their immigration status.

“We will continue to admit students in a manner consistent with our non-discrimination policy,” Schlissel said. “Once students are admitted, the university is committed to fostering an environment in which each student can flourish.”

He added that the university complies with federal requirements associated with managing its international programs.

“Otherwise, the university does not share sensitive information like immigration status,” Schlissel said.

Two area protests have been planned for Sunday to demonstrate against President Trump’s executive orders.

A protester raises her fist and shouts as she joins others assembled at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 after two Iraqi refugees were detained while trying to enter the country.

Though some balked over Trump’s order, still others supported his move.

Ziad Fadel, an attorney and editor of the website, Syrian Perspective, acknowleged that many do not support Trump’s actions and see them as discriminatory. But he said they are needed.

“We can vet people properly,” said Fadel, a Dearborn Heights resident. “He’s putting America first. Though I may think he’s overdoing it, at the same time its an honorable way to approach the problem.”

Pointing to Europe, which opened its doors to refugees, Fadel said that is how extremist groups infiltrate countries to unleash terrorist acts.

“We have to be careful, we have to be very vigilant,” Fadel said. “Even though we have to do something that is distasteful, it’s only temporary.”

But Abdullah Haydar, a Canton resident, called Trump’s order “unconstitutional,” saying it targets people based on religion. He also said it unravels years of strides between the U.S. and Muslims.

Haydar said he appreciated that President Bill Clinton invited Muslim Americans to the White House for dinner during Ramadan, admired that President George Bush visited a mosque within days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and applauded for President Barack Obama for supporting freedom and democracy.

But he lost respect for President Donald Trump after he issued his ban.

Haydar said the move will have the opposite effect of Trump’s intent, giving terrorists more arsenal to use when trying to find new recruits.

“President Trump is wrong, this is not going to stop terrorism,” Haydar said. “He’s creating resentment in the world by saying, ‘America will help the tired and the poor- but not if you’re Muslim.’ This will increase the recruiting tools of the terrorist groups by strengthening them with his ridiculous rhetoric ... He’s empowering the enemy.”


President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday making major changes to America’s policies on refugees and immigration.

A look at what Trump ordered, from the Associated Press:



Trump’s order directs the State Department to stop issuing visas to Syrian nationals and halts the processing of Syrian refugees. That will remain in effect until Trump determines that enough security changes have been made to ensure that would-be terrorists can’t exploit weaknesses in the current vetting system.



Trump ordered a four-month suspension of America’s broader refugee program. The suspension is intended to provide time to review how refugees are vetted before they are allowed to resettle in the United States.

Trump’s order also cuts the number of refugees the United States plans to accept this budget year by more than half, to 50,000 people from around the world.

During the last budget year the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria. President Barack Obama had set the current refugee limit at 110,000.

The temporary halt to refugee admissions does include exceptions for people claiming religious persecution, so long as their religion is a minority faith in their country. That could apply to Christians from Muslim-majority countries.



Trump’s order did not spell out specifically what additional steps he wants to see the Homeland Security and State departments add to the country’s vetting system for refugees. Instead he directed officials to the review the refugee application and approval process to find any other security measures that can be added to prevent people who pose a threat from using the refugee program.

During the Obama administration, vetting for refugees included in-person interviews overseas, where they provided biographical details about themselves, including their families, friendships, social or political activities, employment, phone numbers, email accounts and more. They also provided biometric information, including fingerprints. Syrians were subject to additional, classified controls that administration officials at the time declined to describe, and processing for that group routinely took years to complete.



Trump’s executive order suspends all immigration from countries with terrorism concerns for 90 days. The State Department said the three-month ban in the directive applied to Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — all Muslim-majority nations. The order also calls for Homeland Security and State department officials, along with the director of national intelligence, to review what information the government needs to fully vet would-be visitors and come up with a list of countries that don’t provide it. The order says the government will give countries 60 days to start providing the information or citizens from those countries will be barred from traveling to the United States.

The temporary ban extends to foreigners with visas and people with green cards. Anyone who was abroad when the executive order was signed is now barred from coming back to the country for at least three months. There is an exemption for people whose entry into the country is deemed in the nation’s interest, but it’s unclear how that exemption may be applied.

Barring any travel to the U.S. from those seven countries, even temporarily, appears to at least partially fulfill a campaign promise Trump made to ban Muslims from coming to the United States until assurances can be made that visitors are properly vetted.