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North Carolina Muslims, Immigrant Advocates Decry Ruling Upholding Travel Ban

FILE PHOTO: Bouchra Idlibi of Charlotte brought her children to a protest of the travel ban in January. She said she's a Syrian-American.
David Boraks
FILE PHOTO: Bouchra Idlibi of Charlotte brought her children to a protest of the travel ban in January. She said she's a Syrian-American.

Muslims and immigrant advocates in North Carolina reacted with dismay Tuesday to news that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump's executive order limiting travel from a group of primarily Muslim-majority countries.

The court's 5 to 4 ruling means the government has the authority to bar entry to the U.S. by most travelers from Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, along with North Korea and government officials from Venezuela.

Thakur Mishra, a case manager at Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, said the ruling was disheartening.

"As someone working here with the refugee population in Charlotte, it is very disheartening and … I mean I am personally very disappointed to hear that the supreme court has ruled in favor of Trump's travel ban," Mishra said.

Mishra said the ruling sends another message of panic through the local Muslim community, as it did last year when Trump first issued the executive order.

"We have a lot of Muslim community living here in Charlotte, that were, I believe, either expecting their loved ones or family members or friends [to visit], you know," he said. 

The ruling has an immediate effect on international students in the Charlotte area. We spoke with one Syrian college student who said it means he can graduate, but cannot leave the country to visit family. If he does, he said he'll be locked out. And he's worried he won't able to get a visa when he graduates.  The student did not want to be quoted by name. 

Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, said it sends a signal that the United States does not welcome Muslims.

"When we travel abroad and see our friends and families, and we see our country doing stuff like this to us, it's straight out racist, Islamophobic," said Hough. 

Hough said with about 30 percent of the center's members from Somalia, he's sure it will affect the travel plans of many family members.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte said she, too, was disappointed in the court's ruling. She said in a statement:

"This Administration has routinely implemented immigration policies that are steeped in bigotry and hatred. President Trump has failed to implement a comprehensive immigration reform, he has failed to make our borders safer, and he has failed to uphold the sacred values that our nation was founded upon. The only thing this President has done is push forward a hateful agenda that attacks religious and racial minorities. We are better than this. Today’s Supreme Court decision is yet another sad reflection of the dangerous direction that our country is heading in."

The N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh also decried the ruling.

"In a narrow majority, our nation’s most powerful court stood on the wrong side of history. They endorsed an inhumane policy – one that has already caused great suffering – that will reflect on our government and nation for days and years to come." 

Copyright 2018 WFAE

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.