On Jan. 27, United States President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order to indefinitely halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees and to temporarily ban people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. This decision was announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day—a day on which people around the world condemn all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment, or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief.
This Executive Order effectively bars entry for Syrian citizens—including Syrian-Armenians—caught in the crossfire of the country’s civil war, from seeking refuge in the U.S. It has also wrongfully ensnared several Armenians with permanent residency in the U.S., causing them to be detained and questioned for hours by federal officials. The Armenian-American community knows very well what it means to be targeted for their ethnic origin or religious beliefs; many of us and our families sought refuge in the U.S. to escape such treatment, and our history compels us to take a stand against such decisions.
While understanding the need to protect the U.S. from foreign threats, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern Region U.S. Central Committee believes that the Executive Order on immigration and refugee entry into the U.S. violates core American beliefs in equality, tolerance, and justice.
The U.S. is a nation founded by refugees fleeing persecution and was built by communities of immigrants. All Americans—both immigrants and U.S-born—are part of the fabric of America, regardless of religion, gender, or ethnicity. This diversity has made America strong, and it is what makes America great.
From surviving the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, to escaping the Lebanese Civil War, to fleeing Azerbaijani persecution and pogroms in the late 1980’s, to seeking refuge from the chaos that has engulfed Iraq and Syria, Armenians have come to this country to start new lives in safety and have contributed significantly, like other immigrants, to America’s greatness.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” are not mere words inscribed on some statue. They represent the founding values of this nation, on a statue named Liberty, standing at the gates of America.
We join all those across our nation and the world, who stand together in solidarity for human rights and for justice, for what this nation has always stood for and struggled to achieve. The Armenian community cannot stand silent as this legacy is put in jeopardy.