As refugees, students and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations found themselves detained at United States airports over the weekend due to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry to the United States Friday afternoon, East End Congressman Lee Zeldin held fast in his support for the ban Sunday, while stating that he worked for the release of a Stony Brook University student detained over the weekend at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Mr. Zeldin, who has been a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump throughout his campaign and eventual assent to the presidency, released the following statement today regarding the president’s executive order:
“I support the temporary entry restriction from certain nations until the administration, Congress and the American people know with confidence that any individual being granted admission does not pose a threat to our security. As the Executive Order correctly states, “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”
“Additionally, lawful permanent residents and green card holders should not be adversely impacted by this Executive Order,” he added, echoing White House chief of staff Reince Priebus’s assertion Sunday that green card holders would not be subject to the ban, despite the fact that green card holders had been detained at American airports over the weekend.
“Every American has sympathy for the innocent person who is looking to come to America for a better life, but the process must without exception prioritize America’s national security first,” said Mr. Zeldin. “We cannot allow someone entry until we know for sure they will not pose a risk. The ultimate humanitarian victory is to assist with efforts to stabilize these nations and eliminate the threats there to peace. With all that being said, I will be closely monitoring the execution of this EO to make sure that any misapplication is corrected immediately.”
Mr. Zeldin’s office said, in a separate release, that his office has been involved in the case of Stony Brook University graduate student Vahideh Rasekhi, who had been detained at JFK Airport but was released Sunday afternoon.
Ms. Rasekhi, a linguistics student in the university’s doctorate program and the president of the Stony Brook’s Graduate Student Organization, had been visiting her family in Iran.
She was released after a federal ruling Saturday night allowing immigrants already in transit with visas to remain in the country, in the midst of nationwide protests against the immigrant ban at town squares and airports across the country.
Stony Brook University is advising students from those seven countries to not travel outside the United States for the next 90 days “unless absolutely necessary.”
New York Senator and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called the executive order “mean-spirited and un-American,” and said Senate Democrats plan to introduce legislation overturning the executive order, perhaps as early as Monday.
New York State established a toll-free hotline Sunday to assist anyone who has been detained by federal immigration authorities in New York State at 1.888.769.7243.
“As New Yorkers who live in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, we welcome new immigrants as a source of energy and celebrate them as a source of revitalization for our state,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday. “We will ensure New York remains a beacon of hope and opportunity and will work to protect the rights of those seeking refuge in our state.”
“I never thought I’d see the day when refugees, who have fled war-torn countries in search of a better life, would be turned away at our doorstep,” Mr. Cuomo had said on Saturday. “We are a nation of bridges, not walls, and a great many of us still believe in the words ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses… This is not who we are, and not who we should be.”