CONTACT: Rachel Healy, ACLU of Maine, 774-5444x2 or 409-5509; firstname.lastname@example.org
Portland - The Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition today responded to President Trump’s new executive order targeting immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. The Executive Order, which goes into effect on March 16, implements a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six countries including Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The Executive Order also suspends the nation’s refugee program for 120 days and reduces the cap on refugees entering the country from 110,000 to 50,000.
“I and my family came to this country from Somalia decades ago fleeing civil war,” said Abdi Ahmed, a Lewiston resident who serves on the MIRC Governance Committee and came to the United States over 20 years ago. “I am a business owner and pharmacist, and my family members include teachers and business leaders. We are proud of the contributions we make to our communities here in the United States, and it pains us to be targeted for discrimination in this way.”
Maine has approximately 12,500 African immigrants, including refugees from Somalia and Sudan among other countries, according to the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. Many of the refugees who have been resettled in Maine in recent years have fled war or genocide in their home countries. They sought safety in neighboring countries and refugee status through the United Nations before being placed in refugee camps to await resettlement in another country. Many of them waited years, and in some cases decades, to be resettled.
“I am proud to have started an amazing nonprofit that works to end violence against women, and I am proud to have raised my children as Americans. My daughters attend school at Georgetown and Swarthmore,” said Fatuma Hussein, executive director of Immigrant Resource Center of Maine and member of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, who came to the United States in 1993. “It hurts my heart for the country that I love to reject me and my family with this Muslim ban, which will keep others from Somalia from finding opportunity in America.”
The American Civil Liberties Union announced it will continue to fight this revised order in its ongoing litigation against the ban.
“Freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution, and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of how they look or how they choose to pray,” said Alison Beyea, executive director at the ACLU of Maine. “This revised order is still unconstitutional, and we will continue to challenge it in court.”