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On Friday, January 27th, an executive order was signed that severely restricts immigration from seven Muslim counties, suspends admission for 120 days for refugees of many faiths and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely.  The lack of planning and inter-departmental coordination has left thousands of people stranded all over the world, some in perilous situations. People fleeing war-torn countries and seeking refuge in the United States have been turned away.

Signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the executive order disturbingly recalls the tone of the United States immigration policies of the 1930s and throughout the years of the Holocaust.  The antisemitism and hostility which riddled the State Department and Congress led to many missed opportunities to rescue European Jewry and remain as a stain on the U.S. historical record.

The executive order is discriminatory and incompatible with American values. While every nation has a sovereign right to provide for the security of its citizens, this approach demonizes people seeking asylum and puts those who are law abiding at risk.  As an institution whose mission is to teach the history and lessons of the Holocaust, we know only too well what happens when people stand idly by in the face of injustice.  The extreme damage executed with the stroke of a pen should remind us all of the fragility of our liberties and the need to remain vigilant.

We encourage you to do the following:

  • Visit the museum to learn more about the refugee crisis during the 1930s and the tragic outcomes.
  • Take the time to interact with our Change Begins With Me exhibition that highlights stories of how individuals took action –in some instances risked their lives- during difficult times to make a difference in people’s lives.
  • For more action steps go to the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis link: