B.C. religious leaders call on Canada to act against U.S. immigration ban

Rabbis, priests and imams urge federal government to issue temporary visas to those stuck in U.S. ports of entry.

Religious leaders of various faiths are urging the federal government to let those stuck in U.S. airports into Canada, following President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Members of the group, Concerned Clergy for Refugees, held a news conference at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver on Sunday, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to act.

“These are refugees that are fleeing war-torn countries, these are immigrants holding valid U.S. visas for travel, these are our brothers and sisters,” Rabbi Dan Moskovitz of Temple Sholom in Vancouver told reporters.

Trump issued an executive order Friday that bans entry into the U.S. by citizens and dual-citizens from the Muslim-majourity countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for the next 90 days.

In a letter signed by 75 faith leaders, the group is asking Canada to extent temporary resident visas or permits to those who hold American visas, have passed American security clearance, and who are stranded at American ports of entry.

Protests were held outside airports across the U.S. on Saturday following the Trump’s order, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City where about 50 people were detained for several hours.

“We have prayed that this would never happen again, not in 2017, not in North America,” Moskovitz said.

Trudeau posted a statement on Twitter Saturday evening, saying all are welcome in Canada.

A U.S. federal judge has issued a stay on the immigration ban, following an appeal by the the American Civil Liberties Union, allowing those detained on Saturday to be released and stay in the ports of entry where they arrived.

But this is only temporary, Moskovitz said.

“If America won’t take them, Canada must,” he said, referring to the “none is too many” slogan used during World War II when Jewish refugees fled Germany.

About 30 Lower Mainland residents attended the news conference, including Jenna Brown, who held a sign that read “Diversity makes Canada strong.”

Her boyfriend was a refugee from Vietnam, and imagining what her life would be like if he were to have been banned from entering Canada brought tears.

“He has made such an impact on my life,” Brown said. “To think that people are doing this to people who are fleeing who just want a better life is really hard for me to understand.”

When asked what Canadians can do to help, Moskovitz said to write to local MPs, MLAs, Premier Christy Clark, and Trudeau.

The Prime Minister was in Vancouver Sunday, attending events for Chinese New Year.


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