Kal Penn: The administration’s latest actions on immigration

From an email today by Kal Penn and Organizing for Action:

The White House just issued a new version of their earlier travel ban targeting Muslims and refugees. Remember the one that was halted by the courts because it’s almost certainly unconstitutional? Well today, they released an executive order that’s essentially the same dangerous, discriminatory ban as the first one.

The senior policy adviser who helped write the original executive order even said so himself — he promised last week the new ban would have “the same basic policy outcome” as the first one, with only “minor technical differences.”

First, let’s be clear: These bans make our country less safe, not more so. No refugee since 9/11 — when we implemented a new vetting system — has been convicted of domestic terrorism. Neither has any immigrant from the countries that the ban targets. The problems with the first travel ban were neither minor nor technical — the problem was that it fundamentally violated everything we stand for.

That’s exactly what I was thinking when I received a text message from my buddy whose friend’s father had just been turned away from boarding a flight to L.A. because of his Iraqi background. He was traveling to visit his son, a refugee. Unfortunately, my friend’s story was not an isolated incident; it was precisely what our president promised. The thing is, this doesn’t represent who we are.

We all love our incredible country. The opportunities we’ve had as the sons and daughters of immigrants speak to just how great America is. In the days and weeks following the new administration’s un-American executive order, millions of people rallied around the country to turn something awful into something positive. We got together, created fundraisers, offered legal and translation services to refugees, immigrants, and visitors who were stuck in detention limbo, and really showed the world some of the best of who we are. These too, were not isolated incidents. Faith groups got together with each other, student groups rallied, people donated small amounts here and there to crowd-fund massive donations. All of this reaffirmed everything we believe about who we really are as a people. Something special was happening.

We don’t slam the door shut on people because of where they were born or how they worship. We stand up for each other. We want to help.

These bans, walls, and discriminatory, predatory policies are going to require a bigger, more organized response if we hope for a better path forward. We’re going to have to commit ourselves to the effort. But if these first experiences are anything to go by, I know we’re up for it.

OFA is building the fight to protect our core values and our vulnerable communities. If you’re like me and you think the administration’s new version of this ban is yet another kind of unacceptable, then let’s not accept it — join me in this fight.



Kal Penn