Clarke warns ban may extend to the Caribbean

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has warned that United States President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry to the United States for the predominantly Muslims nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may extend to the Caribbean.

“I am concerned that he could expand that if we don’t organize and push back now,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told an emergency meeting of the Muslim community in her Brooklyn district Sunday night.

“We know that in the Caribbean region there is a very healthy Muslim population from Guyana, to Trinidad, to Jamaica across the board; and so, we have to make sure we come together,” added the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn.

On Saturday, Clarke denounced Trump’s executive order, signed the day before, which halts most refugee admissions to the US for at least four months, except for people who are religious minorities in their nation of origin, effectively preventing many refugees from the Syrian Civil War — the majority of whom are Muslim — from entering the US.

“In the best of our traditions, the United States has welcomed people from around the world who wanted to come here to pursue the American Dream,” Clarke said. “Such people include many of the families I am honored to represent in Brooklyn, where my parents settled in 1955 from the nation of Jamaica to continue their education.”

Clarke said her father, Leslie Clarke, became an engineer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and her mother, Una Clarke, became an early childhood education administrator and was ultimately elected to the New York City Council. The trail-blazing Una Clarke was the first Caribbean-born woman to be elected to the City Council.

“There are unfortunately periods in our history when the United States has departed from that proud tradition, as when Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps during the Second World War and when strict limits were placed on immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe in 1924 based on irrational fears about Catholic and Jewish influence on American culture,” the congresswoman said.

“We cannot as a nation allow xenophobia to undermine our principles or racism to determine our policies,” she added, stating that there are more than three million Muslim Americans living in the US. “These are the same individuals who have volunteered for service in the Armed Forces. These same individuals are our neighbors and friends.

“I will never accept this attack on Muslim families as the policy of the United States,” continued Clarke, a member of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce. “I will resist, and I call on my colleagues in Congress and people of good faith across the United States to join me in resistance to this act of hate.”

Trump said the executive order was part of his vetting plan to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the US.

“We don’t want them here,” he said during a signing ceremony at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country, and love deeply our people.”

On Wednesday, Trump, signed, among other things, an executive order threatening to withhold federal funding from cities that protect law-abiding immigrants from deportation.

“This vicious attack on families across the United States cannot stand,” Clarke told Caribbean Life. “There are more than ten million people here, in our communities, who want to obtain legal status and become full members of our civil society.

“Their numbers include several hundred thousand young women and men who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program and are now attending college, working, and serving in the armed forces,” she added.

Clarke said people of good faith — both Democrats and Republicans — have worked for years to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and that she has joined in that work.

“But, with Donald Trump’s executive orders, our immigration laws are under the control of individuals whose dislike of the ‘other’ now dictates policy,” said Clarke, noting that de Blasio and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo have pledged to protect all families in New York City. “I will join them in that fight.”

At her community swearing-in ceremony Wednesday evening, at the Theodore Roosevelt District Courthouse Ceremonial Courtroom, downtown Brooklyn, Clarke told a packed audience that she is totally committed to fight for all immigrants.

“Right now, we’re on very shaky grounds,” she said after she was sworn in for her 11th year in the US House of Representatives by Justice Paul Wooten, flanked by, among others, her parents.

“So, I encourage everyone to stay ‘woke’ [awake],” she added. “We’re undeterred. I’m on the battlefield. I make no apologies.

“Can you imagine when the deportation forces start moving all the people in our community?” Clarke asked. “Well, we have to do something about it. We have to be ready. We should be proactive in the face of it. So, I’m committed to fight for each and every one of you in the community.”

New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who was arrested outside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan protesting Trump’s inauguration two Fridays ago, also said: “As we listen daily, we see a playbook of fear that is used in every authoritarian and fascist regime in the past.

“The use of a hyperbolic threat is the first step before horrible acts occur,” said Williams, who represents the 45th City Council District in Brooklyn. “Donald Trump is unraveling all that our country claims to stand for.

“As the son of Grenadian immigrants, and as representative of a district that has a large number of foreign-born residents, Trump’s assault on immigration is offensive and shows the worst of America,” he added. “His immigration policies are precisely why so many pushed to resist him from day one.

“We cannot, at all, give him the semblance that we will accept or approve of these divisive policies,” Williams continued. “To the people who said give him a chance, or those who refused to accept reality and suggest we wait, the time for anger and disbelief is over. Now, is the time for action.”

Travelers were stranded around the world, protests escalated in the United States and anxiety rose within Trump’s party on Sunday as his order closing America to refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries provoked a crisis just days into his administration.

The White House pulled back on part of Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from seven countries by saying that it would not apply to those with green cards granting them permanent residence in the United States, according to the New York Times.

By the end of the day, the Department of Homeland Security formally issued an order declaring legal residents exempt from the order, The Times said.

But the paper said the recalibration did little to reassure critics at home or abroad who saw the president’s order as a retreat from traditional American values.

European leaders denounced the order, and some Republican lawmakers called on Trump to back down, the Times said.

It said that, as of Sunday evening, officials said no one was being held at American airports, although lawyers said they believed that dozens were still being detained.