A Springfield mosque has received notes of encouragement from local residents after presidential travel orders affecting some predominantly Muslim counties and a shooting at a Canadian Islamic center this weekend.
Two national stories involving the Muslim community dominated headlines over the weekend. The first involved an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that temporarily bans immigration from seven predominately Muslim countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.
The temporary halt is to ensure the safety of Americans as the new administration reviews the country’s vetting process to ensure Islamic radicals don’t sneak into the country by acting like a refugee, the president said. It’s not targeted at Muslims, White House leaders have said, but at countries that have a history of supporting terrorism.
The ban troubles Lasania, especially that people who otherwise were entering the country legally were detained at airports or denied entry to the U.S. over the weekend.
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“Those who have the proper green card and visa, they should be allowed in,” he said.
The Trump administration has since said the order won’t be applied to permanent U.S. residents with green cards, unless there’s information indicating they’re a serious threat.
A temporary moratorium on accepting refugees is wise because the Obama administration hadn’t properly vetted refugees said Steve Salvi, founder of Ohio Jobs & Justice PAC, which calls for restricting immigration.
“In short, President Trump’s actions will be good for the pocketbooks, safety and quality of life,” Salvi said.
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Lasania said he believes refugees from the Middle East should be allowed into America, but only after proper vetting to make sure all Americans are safe.
“The Muslim community should be viewed as a prospect and not as a suspect,” Lasania said. “We are just like normal Americans, just like everyone else. We should be treated like everyone else.”
David Ray, spokesman with the Federation for American Immigration reform, also said taking a temporary time-out in refugee admissions will allow the Trump administration to review and enhance the vetting procedures.
Welcome Springfield is a nonprofit organization that works with immigrants. The city passed a resolution in support of creating a welcoming environment for immigrants in 2013.
“We are shrinking city, and the only part of our population that is growing are immigrants, especially foreign-born Latino immigrants,” said Carl Ruby, executive director of Welcome Springfield.
Welcome Springfield works with churches to provide English language instruction to foreign-born residents, he said, and has worked to foster relationships with immigrants and police and government.
Ruby’s not in favor of open borders but would like for it to be easier for immigrants to move to the U.S. if they want to work. Most high-skilled medical specialists in Springfield are immigrants, he said.
“What I would encourage President Trump to remember is that immigration is what has already made America great,” he said.
A Quebec Mosque was the scene of a shooting that killed six people and injured dozens more Sunday night. Lasania said his heart breaks for the victims, who media reports said were praying at the time of their slayings.
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“That’s a terrorist act,” he said. “It should be viewed as a terrorist act. We are totally against violence and terrorism in all of its ugly forms.”
He said though the shooting is shocking, the mosque here will continue to worship.
“Anywhere you go in this day and age, you are venerable,” he said. “We will be more vigilant but we will keep going.”
Others here are planning to protest against the events that took place over the weekend, specifically against Trump’s immigration ban. A group will host a rally at 2 p.m. Saturday in downtown Springfield near City Hall.
Staff writer Cornelius Frolik contributed to this article.
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