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Connecticut Responds to Trump's Executive Order On Immigration

Jan 29, 2017

Connecticut residents gathered on Sunday in opposition to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

Several hundred demonstrators were at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks on Sunday afternoon, following similar actions at airports nationwide in protest of Trump's immigration order. And on Sunday evening, residents gathered on Yale University's campus in New Haven for a candlelight vigil.

Among those at Bradley was Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who spoke to the crowd. She expressed her disgust that Trump's ban had been signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"The day that we fought so hard for so many generations not to forget what happened in the Holocaust," she said.

"My family were immigrants, and I'm proud of it," she went on. "We cannot stand and allow this government, this president, to do what he's doing now. We've got to make sure that our voices are heard."

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman at Bradley International Airport on Sunday.
Credit Harriet Jones

Late on Friday, Trump signed an executive order that temporarily suspends the nation's refugee program, and also bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the country.

The order affects families planning to resettle in Connecticut.

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services is one of the organizations that helps resettle refugees in the state. In a statement released on Friday, IRIS called the executive order "gut-wrenching" for members of the refugee community who are waiting to be reunited with loved ones.

The protest at Bradley was organized at short notice by the Connecticut chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

“We wanted to have a peaceful protest, to make sure that people who felt as we did -- people of conscience, who are opposed to banning immigrants, who are opposed to banning refugees -- had a chance to come together and show what they thought and express their opinion," said Farhan Memon, Chair of CAIR-CT.

"This country was built on immigration," Memon said. "We’re a strong country because we’re welcoming to everyone, and because we’re pluralistic. Donald Trump wants to roll us back 200 years to a time when people were discriminated against because of their skin color, because of their religion. That is un-American, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

Rabbi Debra Cantor from Bloomfield also addressed the crowd.

“Many of the founders of my synagogue were refugees from Germany," she told reporters. "Many of them came right after Kristallnacht. And so this is something that in my congregation resonates deeply. As Jews, we know from our history, what it’s like, what happens, when the doors are closed. And then I saw that there would be this rally today, and I came, and when I got here and I saw the crowd, I really began to weep.”

A young boy stands with his family at the candlelight vigil in New Haven that was held in support of refugee and immigrant communities affected by Trump's ban.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

On Sunday evening, hundreds were gathered at Yale University in New Haven for a peaceful candlelight vigil in support of immigrants and refugees affected by Trump's executive order.

The word “solidarity” was projected on the facade of the Sterling Memorial Library. 

Rahaf Hammami of Cheshire was at the vigil. She said she came to the U.S. from Syria 20 years ago.

"I came here because I’m shocked that there is this kind of discrimination against Syrians and against everyone else," she said. "And I never thought in my life that I’m going to see this day where there is blatant discrimination [against] different classes of people in the United States. That’s not why I came to the United States 20 years ago. I came here from Syria because this is the land of the free, of the rule of the law, of no discrimination. It’s open for everybody."

Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy immediately responded to Trump's move, arguing it makes America "less safe" and "handed ISIS a path to rebirth."

They can and will use his announcement today as confirmation that America is at war with Muslims, especially those Muslims living in desperate circumstances. Their recruitment bulletin boards will light up with new material. Their entreaties to would-be lone wolf attackers in America will have new energy and purpose.

All the work we have done to cut down on extremist recruitment at home and abroad now goes out the window. It’s a new day for terrorist recruiters.

Murphy, and other members of Connecticut's congressional delegation, applauded a federal judge's decision to block federal agents from deporting people who landed in the U.S. with a valid visa -- but they also deplored the message Trump's message sends.

In another tweet, Rep. Jim Himes from Connecticut's 4th Congressional District said his office received calls from "doctors, students & other green card holder having trouble coming home."

Ali Abdi, an anthropology student at Yale University, spoke to The New York Times from Dubai. He has permanent residency in the U.S. and didn't think he'd have trouble returning when he left a week earlier. "We didn't believe it really, that it was going to be implemented," he told the Times. "Maybe we were taking the Trump administration less seriously than it is."

Back in New Haven, a Yale Law School team worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and other law groups to challenge Trump's executive order. Their case was filed on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained upon landing at JFK International Airport. Both men worked with the U.S. military in Iraq.

Ryan Caron King, Lori Mack, and Heather Brandon contributed to this report.