A coalition of minority, civil rights and religious groups on Thursday called on President-elect Donald Trump to condemn and cease his divisive rhetoric and to abandon his controversial policy proposals on immigration and other issues.
In a briefing Thursday at the National Press Club, leaders from groups representing African-Americans, Jews, Latinos, people with disabilities, Muslims, Arabs and others held court to express their concerns and discuss the challenges that could lie ahead in a Trump presidency.
Most said they would work with the Trump administration on policies that benefited all Americans.
“But we’re also willing to stand in his face and in the face of this administration if they violate core American precepts,” said Cornell William Brooks, the president of the NAACP.
Samer Khalaf, the president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Arab and Muslim Americans were still feeling the effects of Trump’s rhetoric.
“Hatred and bigotry existed before President-elect Trump. However, he provided a space for it to be normal,” Khalaf said. “As a president-elect, Mr. Trump must repudiate the rhetoric he made during his campaign.”
Hatred and bigotry existed before President-elect Trump. However, he provided a space for it to be normal. As a president-elect, Mr. Trump must repudiate the rhetoric he made during his campaign.
president, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Trump’s campaign has raised fears of deportation, harassment and even bullying among young ethnic minorities and immigrants.
“With his election, too many young children already feel emboldened to harass and bully their Muslim classmates simply because of their faith. That’s the America Muslim families awoke to yesterday,” said Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates, who participated in the event by phone from San Francisco.
On Wednesday after Trump’s election, many immigrant students wondered whether their parents would be deported, said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
“Teachers, all day yesterday, reported these kinds of conversations,” Weingarten said at the briefing.
“If the president-elect’s call for healing and unity is real, it’s incumbent on him and his surrogates to end the divisive rhetoric that has been so frightening to so many of our children and families we educate and care for every day,” Weingarten said.
“If he does this, and if he sincerely seeks unity and to truly understand the needs and concerns of our communities, we know there is much we can accomplish together: from voting rights and criminal justice reform to immigration reform and economic justice for all Americans,” said Christopher Kang, the national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
Tom Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said Trump would have to govern differently than he campaigned. That requires losing the “alt-right allies that he too readily embraced in the campaign,” Saenz said.
“We urge President Trump to begin to expand the circle that he seeks advice from,” Saenz said.
Cristina Jiménez Moreta, the executive director and co-founder of UnitedWeDream, an immigrant youth advocacy organization, said her members were “terrified and in fear” for their communities under a Trump presidency.
She said they were especially fearful about the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
The policy, which President Barack Obama implemented by executive action in 2012, protects more than 800,000 young immigrants in the country illegally from being deported. But it does not provide a path to citizenship. Trump has committed to ending the program, Moreta said.
“Today as I stand here, I fear the deportation of my parents and of my brother, “ Moreta said, adding that the immigrant community is under siege and “we may be entering an era where our very own existence is an act of civil disobedience. . . . That is the reality of what Trump has created.”