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Long Island

Muslim-Americans on Long Island praise ruling on travel ban

A federal appeals court decision not to reinstate the White House’s travel ban drew praise among immigrant advocates and Muslim-Americans who felt targeted by the order barring people from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Some critics, however, saw the ruling by the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals as an intrusion in matters reserved for the president.

Those who had rallied against the ban felt emboldened by the ruling.

The decision “reaffirms my confidence in our checks-and-balances system, in the rule of law and in the judicial system,” said Ali A. Mirza, a community activist from Elmont who is Muslim. “I have been telling my Muslim friends not to panic because of all the things that Trump is saying . . . This is a day to celebrate.”

Muslim-Americans had seen students, relatives and permanent residents who looked like them stopped at airports because of the ban, which took effect after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27.

Trump, who has said his order seeks to protect national security, tweeted his displeasure with the ruling: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), a supporter of the travel restrictions, said the court overstepped its boundaries.

“The Court here is wrong in all counts,” King said. “I do support the executive order, but even if I didn’t . . . that is the purview of the president, who has the constitutional and statutory authority to restrict immigration.”

The last several weeks have seen a resurgence of activism by immigrant and civil rights advocates who’ve joined Muslim-Americans in opposing the order.

Camille Mackler, legal initiatives director for the Manhattan-based New York Immigration Coalition, has led an effort to provide legal assistance to travelers stuck at Kennedy Airport. Her group has helped more than 250 individuals and families.

“All I can think of were the little children who I saw there waiting for their mother,” Mackler said, “or the young man sitting there with flowers, waiting for his fiancée . . . and the real lives that this has affected.”

She was grateful, Mackler said, for “all the other ones like them that don’t have to fear being separated from their loved ones” because of this ruling.

The unanimity of the decision was a remarkable turn, said an expert, because the panel’s three judges had been appointed by different administrations.

“It shows that, regardless of whether the judges were appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents . . . that when you are applying the facts of the law, that that is something that transcends party line,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches on the law of the political process at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California. “The order is a real dismissal of the government’s complaint.”

For now, leaders of Long Island’s Muslim-American community are savoring the victory.

“This restores the confidence and trust of the immigrants, and the Muslim communities in particular, on the judicial system,” said Malik Nadeem Abid, a Valley Stream businessman who brought together interfaith leaders to condemn the ban. “I strongly support the safety and security of every single person in America, but that doesn’t mean that the president of the United States, who is my president as well, should single me out because I am a Muslim.”

Habeeb Ahmed, president-elect of the Islamic Center of Long Island that has a mosque in Westbury, called it “a good decision” but said “there are no winners in these kinds of things,” because the same Muslims who feel targeted want security improvements “to make sure the wrong people don’t get in.”

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