Local leaders speak out against pause in travel

Several Brainerd area voices have spoken out publicly regarding President Trump's executive order, widely known as a travel ban, since it was enacted a week ago.

Several Brainerd area voices have spoken out publicly regarding President Trump's executive order, widely known as a travel ban, since it was enacted a week ago.

The executive order stopped all refugees for 120 days, stopped Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry for people from seven countries whose populations are mostly Muslim-Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen-for 90 days, Reuters reported.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan said Friday the order was a "travesty." He called it ironic that the ban, which was supposedly implemented to help curb terrorism, omitted Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the countries of origin for most of the 9/11 hijackers. Students trying to get to Minnesota's universities and ill people seeking treatment at the Mayo clinic were stymied, he said.

"America's non-discrimination of people based on their race, their religion, their ethnicity, and their origin, is one of the hallmarks of what makes America the great nation that it is," he said.

In a Jan. 29 sermon to the congregation at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Brainerd, Pastor Leslie Moughty responded to the ban and protests against it. She cited the Beatitudes, a section of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount that lays out the groundwork for Christian values.


"Just look around at what the society seems to value-wealth, power, status, strength, military force, winners and losers, safety at all costs," Moughty said. "But the message of Jesus is different. The message of Jesus is that God couldn't care less about that stuff. Instead of wealth-charity. Instead of power-collaboration. Instead of status-humility. Instead of strength-faith. Instead of military force-compassion. Instead of winners and losers-community. Instead of safety at all costs-loving our neighbor as ourselves and welcoming the stranger."

Moughty said she was moved to tears by the sight of people protesting the ban, and in closing, she returned to the title theme of her sermon, "The Foolishness of Faith."

"Waving signs and chanting 'let them in' may seem like foolishness to some," Moughty said. "But it proclaims the unconditional love and grace that is the foundation of God's kingdom."

Central Lakes College had planned a dialog for Friday to discuss the issue through the eyes of a college student. That dialog was canceled, due to the individual nature of the issue, according to an email from President Hara Charlier. Instead, students are encouraged to contact Mary Sam, director of equity and inclusion, for individual support.

In an emailed statement Jan. 30, Charlier reminded students and employees of the college's mission to build futures for all students. The college is committed to "providing a supportive environment for the growth and development of students from diverse cultural, ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds," she wrote.

"In light of recent executive orders regarding immigration policy, it is important to recognize that members of our college community who have been impacted by these actions may be facing anxiety and uncertainty," Charlier said. "I assure you that we share your concerns and will not waiver in our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming campus community."

A statement from Minnesota State Chancellor Steven Rosenstone reaffirmed the system's commitment to fostering understanding through the appreciation of a diverse society. He emphasized campuses will remain safe and welcoming places for all students and employees.

"The state of Minnesota-its businesses, its industries, and indeed, its economic vitality-has long benefited from the scientific, cultural, and economic contributions of international students, scholars, and immigrants from around the globe," Rosenstone said in a news release. "It is critical that Minnesota remain steadfast in its commitment to recruit this talent to our state."


Another statement from Essentia Health asserted the hospital system remained committed to its mission of improving health-and all of its employees, regardless of origin, were important to that mission.

"Essentia would not be able to meet our obligation to our patients without colleagues who were born outside the United States and have dedicated their expertise and service to our communities," Dr. David Herman, Essentia Health chief executive officer, said in the statement. "These colleagues include physicians, registered nurses and surgery technologists, as well as team members in environmental services and information systems."

Staff writers Spenser Bickett and Chelsey Perkins contributed to this report.

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