President Trump’s controversial immigration restrictions are offensive because they’re illegal and because they are useless, says one of Brooklyn’s “Trumpbusters” in Congress.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D—Bay Ridge) spent most of Saturday at John F. Kennedy Airport fighting the president’s executive order barring all refugees for four months and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations for three months.
“I was outraged,” Nadler told Brooklyn Paper Radio co-hosts Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News and Brooklyn Paper Editor Vince DiMiceli in the show’s first installment of its new “Trumpbusters” segment. “It is obviously religious discrimination … it’s a denial of due process, and it’s wanton cruelty for no reason.”
Nadler first pointed out that not a single American has been killed in the United States by an immigrant from the seven countries in question — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — and then pointed out that terrorists can already come into our country in myriad ways.
“We admit 20 million tourists a year, many from visa-waiver countries,” the erudite congressman said. “They don’t even need a visa. They are not vetted at all. If I was a terrorist and I wanted to come in, that’s the way I would do it. But we’re not looking into that because that would really affect our economy. But instead, the President is making a demogogic political point by ruining the lives of refugees and helpless people.”
Nadler detailed his day on Saturday from when he heard about Trump’s airport detentions at about 10:30 am until a Brooklyn federal judge stayed the White House’s executive order.
“I got in touch with the lawyers for two people being detained and they said they couldn’t even talk to their client,” Nadler said. “So I asked, ‘Would having a congressman help you?’ They said it would and I headed out there.”
In the cab, he got a call from fellow Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park), who met Nadler at JFK. Over the next few hours, the pair of Trumpbusters helped lawyers gain access to their clients, who were eventually released.
Nadler said he was fighting not just for a handful of immigrants who were being detained under a foolish executive order, but to defend the law.
But Kuntzman was concerned that the man or woman on the Brooklyn street doesn’t have the time to be constantly protesting. How can the average citizen be a Trumpbuster?
“We have to oppose all the various things he’s doing,” Nadler said.
Then, we have to start looking to 2018 by lining up candidates that can take on the Republicans, Nadler added.
“We need to capture a chamber of Congress so we don’t just lie supine for the President,” he said. “And some Republicans have to take a stand. We have to start pushing them to say this is not a standard Republican president. This is a nationalist, semi-fascist operation here. And it’s an operation that is working hand-in-glove with the Russians!
Also on the show, Brooklyn Paper Deputy Editor Ruth Brown gave an insider’s account of being on hand as Trump’s immigration order was stayed in an historic Saturday night hearing at Brooklyn Federal Courthouse.
Brown — who is from Australia, though many mistake her accent for South Africa — said it was the biggest story she ever covered.
“It was intense,” she said. “The moment when the judge read the lawyers’ names and one said, ‘Representing President Trump,’ it really sunk in.”
Kuntzman wondered what it was like for a foreigner to watch America at war with itself.
“It’s exciting and scary,” she said. “It’s hard for Americans to understand because you don’t feel this way about other countries, but the rest of the world is directly influenced by what you do. My own country is forced to grapple with this.”
Kuntzman and DiMiceli have grappled in their own way. Hoping to unite the nation under a patriotic banner, the fabled “Lennon and McCartney of Community Journalism” opened the latest episode of the show with their a capella rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” one of the only American paeans that does not mention God.
Kuntzman actually provided harmony for the dulcet tones of DiMiceli.
“When you go low,” Kuntzman said, “I go high.”
Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every Thursday at 4:45 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on Brook