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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Muslim Ban Undermines Our American Values, Makes Us Less Safe

Feb 1, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke on the House Floor about President Trump’s misguided, counterproductive, and objectively anti-American executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.

Mr Speaker: Just hours after President Trump’s misguided, counterproductive, and objectively anti-American Muslim ban was signed, we saw the effects.

Immense chaos erupted at airports around the country, including in my own district at Chicago O’Hare.

Green card holders were held in legal limbo.

Refugees fleeing violence and persecution were sent away before boarding U.S. bound flights, even after enduring years of thorough screening and vetting.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have turned away innocent people seeking safety in our country.

In 1939, the German oceanliner St Louis Manifest and its 937 passengers, almost all Jewish refugees, were turned away from the port of Miami and sent back to Europe.

Of those passengers, 254 were murdered in the Holocaust.

We all bear a responsibility to learn from the evils of history so that we never make the same mistakes again.

It is our turn to step up and fight like hell to protect the values of our nation and ensure that we are on the right side of history.

Because who can possibly forget the photo of Alan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy who was washed up on a Turkish beach?

Or Orman Daqneesh, the five-year old Syrian boy covered in blood as he waited for emergency care after being rescued from a building in Aleppo hit by an air strike.

These devastating images have become symbols of the refugee crisis. We cannot let them symbolize our inaction too.

President Trump's executive order creating this Muslim ban undermines the foundational ideals of the United States, a nation founded by immigrants with the intention of providing freedom, opportunity, and a better life to all who seek it.

Making good on one of his most extreme campaign promises, President Trump signed this order with little to no input from his own national security advisors nor from specialists at the State Department, Homeland Security or the Justice Department.

Once again, signaling his strong and continued dismissal of facts, evidence, and advice from seasoned experts.

Contrary to President Trump’s misguided belief – Islam is not the issue. And his decision to go after Muslims instead of terrorists only fuels our enemies’ propaganda.

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I know that President Trump’s Muslim ban undermines our national security goals and is counterproductive in the fight against terrorism.

The ban jeopardizes our strategic partnerships with allies in the Middle East, who are on the very front lines in the fight against ISIS.

Asylum seekers and foreign nationals have provided invaluable assistance to our military and diplomats in a variety of roles overseas.

In fact, I agree with Sens. McCain and Graham who said this ban will become “a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism”.

Ultimately, this order is more likely to increase terrorist recruitment than to deter it.

Outrage over this ban extends far beyond national security and counter-terrorism experts.

For example, we are seeing sharp criticism from business leaders across the country, including CEOs of companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Airbnb.

They recognize that immigrants play a huge role in fostering our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit, advancing new technology, and creating start-ups, all of which spur innovation and economic activity across the country.

In fact, a 2016 bipartisan study from the National Foundation for American Policy reported that immigrants founded more than half of our country’s billion-dollar startups.

Universities and academics across the country are also grappling with what President Trump’s restrictions mean for their students—and for scholarship and academia more broadly.

Students benefit from the inclusion of all worldviews, which provide us with a deeper understanding of science, the arts, economic policy, national security, and all other aspects of our society

Let me be clear – My own city of Chicago has been and will continue to be a home to immigrant and refugee communities from around the world, and we are forever enriched by and grateful for the contributions. They truly make America great.

I, along with the majority of the American people who have took to the streets and the phones to make their opposition heard loud and clear, demand that the Administration immediately rescind this shameful order before even more grave and lasting damage is done.

Let’s call a spade a spade.

Despite the White House’s insistence that this is not a Muslim ban, the policy laid out by the President will almost exclusively impact Muslims.

In fact, President Trump went so far as to point out that his administration will prioritize admittance for Christian refugees.

If this is not a religious test, than what is? 

Refugees—of all faiths, creeds, race and national origins—have looked to America as a beacon of freedom.

So long as this bigoted ban is in effect, that light shines less brightly.

We will not etch a new inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Instead, her golden lamp will continue to welcome those who are tired, poor, and yearning to be free, just as it always has. Thank you and I yield back.