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Open letter to Rep. Lee Zeldin from Riverhead Town Democratic Committee

A man held a sign protesting the president's executive order on immigration and refugees during a Jan. 31 meeting of First Congressional District constituents with with Rep. Lee Zeldin's district manager Jan. 31 Photo: Denise Civiletti

Dear Rep. Zeldin:

As constituents in your district, we are writing to you to voice our opposition to the Jan. 27 executive order that bans immigrants and refugees from seven countries and Syria. At the very least, this ban is un-American and defies the values that our country was built upon. We are a nation of immigrants.

letter to the editorThis ban put our nation and our military at a security risk and causes global imbalance. At a meeting on Jan. 31 at the Riverhead Library 87 of your constituents met with your district manager, Mark Woolley. Concerned citizens cited that the ban actually makes them feel “less safe.” Is this what you want for the people in your district?

The order was implemented in an incompetent fashion that caused chaos and confusion across our country. There were concerns brought up at the Jan. 31 gathering as to whether or not you had intervened on behalf of detainees from your district such as Vahideh Rasekhi, a Stony Brook University graduate student and Iranian national who was detained for over 30 hours.

The 9/11 attack on America has been cited in discussion of this executive order and yet none of the 9/11 or post-9/11 terrorists came from the countries included in the executive order.

It has been alleged that President Barack Obama took a similar action in 2011 out of concern for terrorism, but this is not true. The Obama administration conducted a review in 2011 of the vetting procedures applied to citizens of a single country (Iraq) and then changed the visa waiver program by saying that citizens of those allied countries who travel to Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan and later Libya, Yemen and Somalia after March 2011 were not eligible for a visa waiver. This was by no means a ban.

The vetting process in our country is already stringent and can take up to two  years to complete. Many at the Jan. 31 meeting in Riverhead asked your district manager why refugees who had already gone through this process were detained.

This executive order is unconstitutional and illegal. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, replacing the old prejudicial system.

As a group of extremely concerned citizens, we ask that you do everything in your power to stop this ban, as it is your responsibility to represent our district. This ban is not in accordance with the very principles that our nation was founded upon. Our first president, George Washington wrote, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.”


Members of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee:
Marjorie Acevedo, Michael Roth, Robert Gottschalk, Kiesha Washington-Dean, Catherine Kent, Jean Hudson, Larry D. Williams, Ruth M. Pollack, George Bartunek, Jerome J. Bost, Dr. Camile Gooden, William C. Funke, Elaine Burns, John McManmon, Angela M, DeVito, Jeanne M. Luboja, Betty L. Harris, Laura Jens-Smith, Vincent Villella, Michael R. Light, Jeanne C. O’Rourke, James McManmon, George “Gio” Woodson, Dean S. Terchunian, Gwendolyn Mack, Kimberly Roth, Josephine Passantino, Icilio W. Bianchi, Michael Comando, Celia L. Iannelli, Louis Passantino, Arthur A. Acevedo, James “Butch” Langhorn, Diane Wilhelm, Susam Ambro, Matthew Ambro, Irene Pendzick, Ethel A. Sussman, Thelma White


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