Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
Sean Egan (IBEW 275) is the chair of the Kent-Ionia Labor Council.
It will be an interesting few years with President Trump. On the one hand, during his first week in office, he ended the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a move the labor movement has long been fighting for on behalf of American workers. But on the other, he sends a signal of fear, bigotry, and closed hearts by banning immigrants from countries whose majority religion is Islam.
This may cause a challenge for some that support labor’s message, as we must applaud the president for ending our participation in a trade agreement that would have hurt American workers. (I know, some industries may have benefited from the agreement, but many more would have suffered. A large problem was also giving authority to a panel of corporate attorneys for disputes that would bypass American courts.)
But, we must also share our outrage that the president— in this country of immigrants— tries to place a ban on immigrants due to their nation of origin.
Islam is not a violent religion. Muslims are working families just like you and me; their struggles are our struggles. Like all families, they seek safety, security, basic needs and the opportunity for a better future for all of our children. The implication that the United States is closed to a certain group based on irrational fear is a far break from our roots and our spirit.
If you feel scared, you should reflect internally and fight the urge to stereotype a family trying to flee the war-torn areas of Syria. And if you just said, “Well, they can flee, just go somewhere else,” please take some extra time to figure out the hypocrisy of that statement. We are part of the solution of a global problem when we welcome folks; you can’t pass the buck.
And so our president has now tried to single out people from certain countries and of a certain religion. So far it’s only been an attempt, because as of this writing a court has enjoined the implementation of the executive order. Kudos to the ACLU for once again protecting the rights of our citizens, laws, and Constitution. We are probably in for a few years of legal challenge after legal challenge, as it seems President Trump and advisors don’t really know what the Constitution is and what laws state in many cases.
As I said, going forward, it will be interesting for organized labor’s messaging because so far, some of President Trumps moves are right in line with what we’ve been saying for years: Buy American, stop unfair trade that hurts American working people, focus on our infrastructure, etc.
However, we can never let go of our fellowship toward our fellow human beings. One’s birthplace, culture, religion, and color are no reason to keep them from having opportunity. And if we can provide that opportunity in the United States, we should embrace it and learn about others, not close our doors in fear. If we want to tighten immigration policy, fine, but let’s do it based on sound logic, not irrational fear.
One final thought, can we please, please, put our current immigrants’ minds at ease and let them just stay and let their children go to school. The terror of the unknown is cruel and un-American.