JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from predominantly Muslim countries is bringing a lot of criticism abroad and right here in Jacksonville.
For people who gather in mosques all around Jacksonville, the president’s temporary ban on refugees has created considerable concern.
The action was swift, and left people opposed to the president’s order scrambling to react. Politicians and attorneys have been frantically trying to help stranded immigrants not being allowed through customs.
Local Muslim-American Sapeda was born in Afghanistan and grew up in Jacksonville. She’s been watching the president’s actions every step of the way, particularly the overnight legal battle for travelers detained in New York after President Trump’s refugee ban went into effect. The ACLU then took the president to court, and the judge granted a stay.
“I’ve been watching it all night last night, watching on social media from the moment it started to when ACLU came out and said hey, there’s a stay on it,” Sapeda said. “So I’ve kind of been following that story.”
Sapeda said she hopes enough people will fight the president on this issue, and said she fears it could get worse for Muslims in the future.
“(It’s) very personal to me, and I’ve been really interested in knowing what all is happening, why it’s happening and how we can stop it,” Sapeda said. “For me, I’m not going to wait until it directly impacts my family. It’s affecting someone’s family out there, and that’s important.”
University of North Florida’s president of the political science club Abubakr Hassan is echoing Sapeda’s sentiment.
“Obviously it’s disturbing because it’s a ban that specifically targets Muslims,” Hassan said. “And also disturbing, disconcerting if you look at the technicality of the ban, and how it was done.”
President Trump is defending the executive order with this tweets like, “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting. NOW Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed the world -- a horrible mess!”
No airport protests in Jacksonville
Locally there have been no protests at Jacksonville International Airport. News4Jax spoke to people traveling at the airport and received differing opinions on the ban and what it means moving forward.
One woman said President Trump is trying to protect the American people, and part of that is making tough decisions on who is let into the country. She says she'd like to see a more rigorous vetting process on refugees.
“I think safety is of the utmost importance for everyone in the US and by Trump doing what he’s doing, he’s protecting us. I have three children, and I think to myself, I wouldn’t want anything happening to them," Kathy LsSavage said. "I think people in other countries should understand that it is a temporary solution."
Another man said the vetting process is already top notch. He noted the people looking to come into the US are recommended by the UN council on refugees. He said the ban is unconstitutional. Part of the executive order said it will give preference to Christian Refugees. One man said there is no such thing as a “religious test” in the U.S.
“I’m clearly out of step with the current administration," Charles Mackay said. "I’d like to see a lot more immigration of all folks. People who want to come here and want to work and want to do it legally, again why wouldn’t we want to have these people in our country?”
Area leaders respond to refugee ban
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson issued the following statement on Trump's executive order:
“We have to do everything we can to protect ourselves from those who want to do us harm, but a hastily-issued policy that bans everyone from one of these seven countries from entering the U.S. – including the Iraqi interpreters who served alongside our troops in Iraq – is not the answer.”
University of Florida president Kent Fuchs released the following statement on UF's Facebook page:
"In light of the administration’s executive order suspending the entry of individuals from certain countries into the United States for 90 days, we at the University of Florida affirm our support for our international students, faculty and staff." Fuchs added, "UF has approximately 7,000 international students. We estimate there are about 200 students, graduate students, faculty and staff from the seven countries addressed in the order. We are advising these individuals not to travel outside the U.S. in the immediate future and will continue to monitor the situation and update them as possible."
Florida State University president John Thrasher released the following statement on the university's website:
"Florida State University is deeply concerned about the administration’s new policy preventing the entry of citizens of seven foreign countries to the United States for the next 90 days. At universities nationwide, confusion and uncertainty are causing disruption and worry among students, researchers, faculty and staff who are citizens of the countries involved in the ban, as well as their colleagues and friends."
As far as politicians on the president’s side of the aisle go, there is some support, but also questions about the president’s plans.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, is questioning the way the order was implemented.
"For one, it is not a ban,” Portman said. “However, I think it was not properly vetted. So you have an extreme vetting proposal that didn't get the vetting it should have had. And as a result, in the implementation, we've seen some problems."
Only days after Trumps’ executive order, a story broke about the White House saying they are considering foreign visitors to disclose what websites and social media they visit, as well as turn over contacts in their cellphones before entering the U.S.