WITNESS and Peter Gabriel Sign Open Letter from Social Entrepreneurs to President Trump

WITNESS is proud to be a signatory on an open letter to the president from more than 350* social entrepreneurs denouncing the travel ban on immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Our co-founder the musician and activist Peter Gabriel has also signed on. The letter was published by the Skoll Foundation on the heels of the welcome news that the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to reinstate the ban. WITNESS proudly joins this chorus calling on the president to heed the message from social change leaders that we stand with the resistance and reject the sowing of bigotry and fear.

Dear President Trump,

As leaders who have spent our careers pioneering innovative solutions for many of our nation’s and the world’s most entrenched challenges, we write to express our unequivocal disagreement with your Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, which banned individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. We believe the order violates one of America’s most closely-held values to block entry to a targeted minority, whether comprised of temporary visitors, immigrants, or refugees. This is especially true for those who live on the edge of survival in war zones and refugee camps and have waited for years to call this great country their new home.

Groups like ours exist to help lift up the poorest and most marginalized with innovative solutions. In our opinion, this ban will make our work to foster peace, sustainability, opportunity and inclusiveness much harder. This action has unfortunately intensified fear, bigotry, and division in communities across our nation and the world, giving our organizations still more challenges to overcome. It has also decreased trust of Americans as we travel — it conveys that America is a country that no longer values diversity but operates from a place of prejudice.

We believe that immigrants and visitors from these nations should be allowed into the US to help increase the efficacy of the work we do to build peace and prosperity both at home and around the world. Collectively, we employ tens of thousands of people, and we have always found that the most powerful solutions for societal ills only emerge with the intimate involvement of those whom we work to serve. Diversity is the lifeblood of social, economic, and political progress, and policies that impede this value weaken our ability to innovate and implement social change.

We fear that such policies limit opportunity, inclusion, and our nation’s opportunity to engage with the world. We stand with the millions of people around the globe who have joined hands in resistance to efforts to sow fear and create false divisions along the lines of religion, ethnicity, country of origin, gender, or any other degree of difference.

You have expressed skepticism about the government’s abilities to solve problems alone, so we hope you will listen to the voices of those of us who lead organizations on the front lines of social change each and every day, using business best practices and often partnering with government. We respectfully request, Mr. President, that you do not deny us the right of welcoming people, regardless of their religion or nationality, to our shores. We must continue to communicate the values of inclusiveness and opportunity for all, values that our nation has always worked hard to live and to model.

Your fellow Americans,

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, WITNESS

(For full list of signatories, check out the original post from the Skoll Foundation on Medium here.)

Photo: copyright Geoff Livingston

*originally published with 256, signatories number updated February 13, 2017. Peter Gabriel signed onto the letter February 15, 2017. 



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