Immigration and civil rights advocates in Wisconsin spoke out yesterday against President Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting seven mostly Muslim countries, while the University of Wisconsin urged about 130 affected students not to leave the country because they may not be able to return.
Word of people trying to come to Wisconsin from other countries who have had their plans derailed — including a Sudanese victim of torture and a UW student ‑ also began to surface.
Gov. Scott Walker broke his silence on the ban, saying that “we should ensure we are doing everything possible to put the safety of our citizens first.” Walker had opposed Trump’s call as a presidential candidate in December 2015 to ban all Muslims from entering the country.
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Green Bay, said the travel ban “could have been better handled” by the Trump administration while all others in the state’s congressional delegation praised it or said nothing.
Gallagher, a U.S. Marine veteran, said Trump should have worked closer with Congress to ensure those who fought with the U.S. in Iraq and legal permanent residents were not affected.
Critics, including every Democrat in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, denounced the travel ban as un-American.
“This goes against everything our country represents, going back to our founder’s conviction in the United States as a nation where the government does not discriminate against any religion,” said Emilio De Torre, youth and program director at Wisconsin’s American Civil Liberties Union, at a news conference at the Islamic Resource Center in Milwaukee.
Travel ban affects real people
Trump has insisted that the order he signed is not a ban on Muslims entering the country but is instead a measure designed to keep the country safe. Trump’s order includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.
A 24-year-old man escaping violence and torture in Sudan did not arrive in Wisconsin as scheduled yesterday due to the temporary immigration ban, said Mary Flynn, program director of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The man’s case had been expedited because he was a victim of torture, Flynn said. Six other individuals who were to be helped by the group in the next few months have had their cases cancelled as of Monday, Flynn said.
Fessahaye Mebrahtu, executive director Pan-African Community Association in Milwaukee, said many of the Iraqi, Somalian and Sudanese refugees his organization worked with have been waiting for family members to arrive. The executive order now puts those plans on hold, he said.
There are about 130 UW students statewide affected by the travel ban and they should not leave the country, President Ray Cross said in a message to the campuses. UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said university officials were working with one student whose plans to return to the U.S. may be affected by the order, but she had no further details.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank called for Trump yesterday to reconsider the travel ban, saying it affects “real people — researchers, scholars, students and staff — who are essential to our goals of providing a world-class education.”
Associated Press writers Ivan Moreno and Cara Lombardo contributed to this report. Moreno reported from Milwaukee.