When the news broke that the Supreme Court partially allowed Trump’s travel ban to go ahead, it confirmed my deep fear that the unpredictable Supreme Court might break Trump’s losing streak vis-à-vis the lower courts. And it did.
As an American citizen of Somali descent who proudly calls Oregon home, the news has particularly hit home for me. Although I can travel within and outside of the United States freely, I still feel targeted and humiliated insofar as the Supreme Court upheld major parts of Trump’s Travel Ban 2.0.
Mind you, this bad news does not stop me from joining millions of fellow Americans who celebrated the American tradition of political freedom on July 4. But it allowed me to protest a blatantly anti-American policy.
Thus far, the intensity of debate on this issue seemed to have been revolved around whether Trump's executive order was a “Muslim ban,” a “travel ban” or “extreme vetting." However, one thing was crystal clear: the key ingredients which unite the banned countries. They are all majority Muslim nation whose citizens neither carried out any successful attack on American soil nor offer any interest for President Trump’s business empire.
Before I get into how millions of people, the overwhelming majority of whom innocent, are discriminated against by this travel ban, let us revisit America’s history of welcoming the oppressed, the impoverished and millions of political or economic refugees, including my own family who found this country to be a beacon of hope.
This executive order reverses, however, or at the very minimal, deals a huge blow to the longstanding American tradition of welcoming the persecuted. It completely stops all refugees from entering the country for up to 120 days. For years, I took it for granted that America will always and forever remain hospitable and provide hope for people like my family. I was wrong. As refugees, my family applied for resettlement from many countries, but the United States answered our call. Thankfully, it was perhaps the happiest moment in our lives when we learned that we were traveling to JFK International Airport to permanently settle in the United States of America with my family members.
Under Trump’s ban, my family would not have been welcome. In fact, there are thousands of families like my own who are currently in the process to arrive here. But their hopes have been shattered by this cruel policy. So many vulnerable women and children will see their dreams completely wiped out with a stroke of a pen.
The inclusion of refugees in the ban further undermines Trump's claim that it serves any security purpose. That is because refugees are the most well-vetted category of immigrants. The process is lengthy and thorough and involves several government agencies. Examining the identity of 9-11 hijackers, San Bernardino shooters, the failed British shoe-bomber and the plethora of homegrown radicalism, there is no evidence that any citizen of any of the six banned countries were involved in any of those. In fact a recent study in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Politics found that there is no link between terrorism and immigration.
Even though as a naturalized U.S. citizen, I am not subject to the ban, the thought of this happening to people who had done nothing wrong other than being born in my native country and five majority Muslim nations, makes me feel its impact and humiliation in ways that are personal.
I hope rationality prevails rather than scapegoating the poor and weak. I also hope that we rise above justifying extreme measures, such as torture, wars and draconian and irrational laws that target entire populations and nations.
The refugee ban will make the United States look weak, fragile and heartless — and it trashes a longstanding American tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants.
I am grateful and lucky to be living in Corvallis. A community that is both welcoming and safe for me and my family. I wish I could say the same thing about the entire nation.