Democrats will fight President Donald Trump’s “unconstitutional” refugee ban, pledged a teary-eyed Sen. Charles Schumer on Sunday.
Surround by refugees from Iraq and Syria, the Senate minority leader said he and his colleagues would draft legislation to overturn the president’s executive order, signed on Friday. He demanded the president reverse course.
“I, as your senator from New York, will claw, scrap and fight with every fiber of my being until these orders are overturned,” said Schumer, who almost broke down as he quoted the poet Emma Lazarus: “ Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Trump’s executive order suspended the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days while barring Syrian refugees indefinitely. It blocked the entry into the Unites States from citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries.
“Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning. “We cannot allow this horror to continue!”
Schumer said the president’s executive order was “mean-spirited” and “un-American.”
“The refugee program should be for all religions that are persecuted,” Schumer said. “That’s the point. There should not be a religious test. The Constitution prohibits it … We have never used a religious test as to who should be a refugee. What’s next?”
There are 42 American citizens or green card holders being held at airports nationwide due to the order, according to Schumer. Though their status is unclear, Schumer said that he had spoken on the phone with Gen. John Kelly, secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Sunday morning, who assured Schumer that all travelers being detained at airports would be admitted into the country “soon,” Schumer said, in accordance with a federal court ruling on Saturday.
Schumer stood next to Azzam Elias, a refugee who migrated from Syria to the United States in 1978. Elias lives in the Pelham Bay Park area of the Bronx with his daughter and son-in law as citizens of the United States.
His grandchildren, between the ages of 6 and 16, had just arrived to the United States about a month ago.
The children had traveled from Syria, where suicide bombs had gone off in front of their house in Damascus, Schumer said.
“I’m bringing my kids here to be good citizens,” said Elias, 62, who is a tailor.
He cried as he spoke of his other daughter, who he said has cleared background checks to enter the United States but now faces an uncertain future in Lebanon.
“The refugees are people like us building America. And we’re going to build it better than what Mr. Trump wanted. I can promise you that.”