On January 27, President Donald Trump approved an executive order that suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, blocked Syrian refugees indefinitely, and denied entry for citizens of seven Muslim majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for 90 days. The order also temporarily blocked the reentry of U.S. green card and dual citizenship holders from these countries.
During Trump’s campaign, when he first spoke of a “total and complete shut-down of Muslims entering the United States,” I figured it was just another outrageous, fear mongering promise often made by political contenders. As he continued to talk of a Muslim registry and encourage Islamophobia, I held on to the belief of our nation’s unity.
Not only is President Trump saying that banning immigration from select Muslim majority countries is “not a Muslim ban,” but he is blind to the hypocrisy of his entire proclamation.
The barring of immigration is as un-American as you can get. The United States is a beacon for those fleeing religious persecution, founded as it was upon the principles of religious freedom. Denying entry for people from a certain region, country, or of a certain nationality, race, or religion goes against the foundation this nation was built on. In the name of national security, a shameful and dark history of laws banning immigrants based on their countries of origin, such as laws that blocked immigration from China, Japan, and at one point all Asian, haunts our nation.
Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration may not be THE “Muslim ban,” but it is an evolved version of that idea. By changing the label from a religious ban to an immigration ban, Trump found a loophole to continue to promote the Islamophobia he pushed during the election.
Trump also went on the Christian television show “The Brody File” and openly stated that he plans to give priority to Christian refugees that are fleeing war torn regions such as Syria. During the interview, Trump said, “If you were a Muslim you could come in [to the United States], but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair…And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.” This statement is logically and statistically flawed.
Muslims made up about 87 percent of Syria’s total population and about 98 percent of Syrian refugees, while Christians were 10 percent of the population and 1 percent of refugees, as of Jan. 12, according to the CIA World Factbook. Due to the proportion of refugees coming from Syria, the total number of Muslims admitted are bound to be higher than the number of Christian refugees. Yes, Christian persecution is happening, but deciding that persecuted Muslims are less worthy of help is religious discrimination. It isn’t a matter of which refugees deserve more help, but of helping those who come to us in need.
On January 30, hours after Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates announced that the department would not defend Trump’s controversial executive order in the case, Trump fired her. The State Department’s letter of dissent stated that the ban “will have little practical effect in improving public safety.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded, “The president has a very clear vision…If somebody has a problem with that agenda that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post.”
Yates being fired is in violation with state officials contracts, which give them the right to write letters of dissent without risking their positions, and is a direct contradiction to our democracy. Without opposing opinions and voices fueling the conversations and debates, we lose the foundation our government is based upon.
I understand the safety concerns. I want to keep our immigration process safe, but it’s the method I have a problem with. Not only has Trump risen via the rhetoric of a “Muslim ban” that has been, still is, and will continue to be, widely used, but these types of discriminatory bans of immigrants have a large impact on how American Muslims will be treated. This step, however small it may seem to some, if accepted without resistance, opens a door for the Trump administration to take more extreme actions against Muslims in the future and plays into the hands of extremist recruiters.
I don’t want to blindly protest any new policy this administration puts forth, but I am grateful to live in the United States at a time when people are not afraid to voice their concerns. President Trump might not be done enacting new and discriminatory policies, but I know we are not done standing up for the America we believe in.