HOUSTON — Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who in 2007 became the first Muslim member of Congress, said in an interview Saturday that opponents of President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugees should oppose them in the streets.
“It’s time for people to get active, to get involved, to vote and to organize,” said Ellison, who was in Houston to campaign for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Trump must be stopped, and people power is what we have at our disposal to make him stop. We need mass rallies. We need them all over the country. We need them in Texas. We need them in D.C. We need them in Minnesota.”
Ellison, one of the first candidates to enter the DNC race, is also the most politically prominent member of a faith singled out in Trump’s executive orders temporarily halting the visa interview process from seven nations and the refugee flow from Syria. On Friday, before heading to Houston, he joined a rally in Miami-Dade County against plans for it to cooperate in Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities; former labor secretary Tom Perez, seen as the other front-runner in the DNC race, responded to Trump’s plan to investigate “voter fraud” with an op-ed about Texas’s experience chasing after phantom fraud cases.
Once in Houston, Ellison found himself zipping between meetings with DNC members while Muslim legal groups were collecting stories of stranded refugees and working, in vain so far, to reunite them with families.
“I’ve heard from people who were on the way to Minnesota and were blocked,” said Ellison. “They’re stopping people at the border right now. They’re breaking up families now. This is an absolute affront to America as a welcoming nation that gives refuge to suffering people. It is basically sending a positive signal to people who hate this country, because now ISIS gets to say — ‘See? They don’t want you.’ They get to whip up hate and anti-American sentiment.”
While no Republican members of Congress have spoken out against last night’s executive orders, Ellison pointed out that his colleagues had opposed them in the past — before the 2016 election.
“Speaker Ryan said that using religion as a criteria for any treatment of people is wrong an un-American,” said Ellison. “Well, Trump said he wanted a Muslim ban. He has selected only Muslim countries to ban people. We can’t tolerate it.”