Former Justice Department lawyer brings debate over immigration - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former Justice Department lawyer brings debate over immigration ban to Honolulu classrooms

Wes Porter, President/CEO of Damien Memorial School (Image: Patrick Bigold) Wes Porter, President/CEO of Damien Memorial School (Image: Patrick Bigold)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A former Justice Department insider is bringing the debate over President Trump's immigration ban to Honolulu classrooms.

Wes Porter is the new president and CEO of Damien Memorial School.

He used to serve as senior trial lawyer for the Justice Department, where Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired Monday, for refusing to back Trump's order. Trump replaced her with U.S. attorney Dana Boente.

Back in Hawaii, Porter is using this event to teach a valuable lesson to Damien students.

He's encouraging teachers to reinforce values like peace, justice and global awareness. 

"I thought it was important to say 'yeah, this is different than what we teach you, this is a departure from what we expect of you and I wanted to call it out as that,'" Porter said. "I was a lawyer before, so I really pride service and advocacy and making sure we stand for justice."

The University of Hawaii also took a stand Monday and told its students, specifically those from the seven countries impacted by the ban, not to travel outside of the U.S., fearing they may not be able to return. 

Hawaii Pacific University reiterated it's a "community, welcoming of all students and scholars regardless of country of origin."

In addition, Hawaii Congressional leaders spoke out against Trump's order.

The ban is also testing Trump' own party.

At least 20 republicans in congress are outright opposed to it and many more are upset they weren't consulted, but the chair of Hawaii's GOP is defending him.

"There's nothing that says Muslim or not Muslim, but these countries are a danger or supportive of terrorism," said Fritz Rholfing, chairman of Hawaii Republican Party. "What we should be concerned about is protecting U.S. citizens and not protesting orders of the President." 

The American Immigration Council said immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of Hawaii's population.

According to the Pacific Gateway Center Resettlement Program, two people from Iraq are awaiting entry to Hawaii.

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