Local leaders are speaking out about President Donald Trump’s executive orders banning refugees from entering the United States.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz calls the orders “UN-American.”
“It’s a sad day for our country. While the president may have signed this order he does not represent all of the people from the United States,” said Poloncarz.
Saturday night, Poloncarz joined religious leaders at the Islamic Center in Amherst to talk about strategies moving forward.
Khalid Qazi is the founding president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York. Qazi say’s President Trump’s ban is playing into the hands of radicals and extremists.
“To have a religious test for people to come into the country is something that is neither constitutional or American tradition. That’s going to play right in the hands of the lone wolves who are taking law into their own hands because they’ve been singled out for discrimination,” said Qazi.
Poloncarz and Qazi are warning immigrants and refugees living in the area about green cards. They say it’s best to stay in the country even if you’re here legally.
“If somebody lets say is from Yemen and their teaching at the University at Buffalo and they happen to go up to Toronto to visit family, they will be barred from coming back into the country,” said Poloncarz.
Some refugees and immigrants in Buffalo say they’re scared.
“I’ve already heard from a few people, especially Muslim women who are scared in their house they think there’s going to be retribution, they think they’re going to be deported,” said Poloncarz.
Despite their fate, some still remain hopeful.
“We love this homeland as much as anyone else, maybe perhaps more because we came here by choice, we are not Americans by accident,” said Qazi.
A forum is being held Saturday, February 4 for immigrants and refugees to better understand their rights. Community groups and volunteer lawyers will be on hand to talk about legal issues at Jericho Road Community Health Center from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.