Zadie Smith, George Packer, and others voiced their opposition to the immigration ban

By Christian Holub
February 22, 2017 at 10:15 AM EST
Brian Dowling/Getty Images; Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Literary authors have announced formal opposition to President Trump’s new immigration policies. On Tuesday, 65 writers and artists signed an open letter to the president from PEN America, asking him to rescind his much-criticized executive order restricting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. Signatories include renowned figures like Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, Stephen Sondheim, Philip Roth, J.M. Coetzee, and Art Spiegelman.

“Your January Executive Order caused the chaos and hardship of families divided, lives disrupted, and law-abiding faced with handcuffs, detention, and deportation,” the letter reads. “In so doing, the Executive Order also hindered the free flow of artists and thinkers — and did so at a time when vibrant, open intercultural dialogue is indispensable in the fight against terror and oppression.”

President Trump’s executive order led to mass protests at airports around the country after it went into effect. In February, the 9th Circuit Court upheld a stay on the ban so that it is currently not in effect, but the administration has hinted that there is a new, modified version coming soon.

The PEN letter may not ultimately have much of an effect, but the note shows solidarity and solidifies resistance among the literary community. Signatory and New Yorker staff writer George Packer told The New York Times, “I don’t expect it to change any minds at the top of the Trump administration, but perhaps it will give heart to officials lower down, and to foreigners who wonder if America is losing what makes it great.”

Other signatories include John Lithgow, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Rosanne Cash, Robert Caro, and more. To see the full letter and all of its authors, head to PEN.

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