Immigration ban contradicts American values, fuels hate crime epidemic

Immigration ban contradicts American values, fuels hate crime epidemic

Illustration by Aileen Zhang

Last weekend, my younger brother and I renewed our passport photos with my mother for our upcoming trip to Pakistan, the birthplace of my parents and a country that is 98 percent Muslim. As we got in the car, my brother joked that we might not be let back into the U.S. when the trip ended. I laughed. The irony of the situation was overwhelming ― we were joking about a presidential action so absurd that there was no other way to respond.

On Saturday, Jan. 28, the United States awoke to discover that Donald Trump had fulfilled one of his campaign promises and issued an executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. In response, US District Court judge James Robart suspended the ban nationwide, and on Feb. 9, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Robart’s decision. It remains to be seen if Trump will issue a new executive order or take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

I’m fully aware that the ban does not affect me or my immediate family. We have the U.S. passports that refugees and immigrants dream of, and I am a natural-born citizen. Still, this ban has created frightening consequences for immigrant and minority groups.

American immigrant communities are fearful. Just hours after the travel ban was announced, a mosque was burned down in Victoria, Texas, one of many recent anti-Muslim crimes. Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is a founding member of Breitbart, a website that serves as a platform for the alt-right and white supremacists. The National Guard has begun raids that track down and forcefully remove illegal immigrants. Our Honduran handyman recently told us that his children have refused to attend school in fear that they’ll come home one day and their dad will be gone. Beyond the immigration crisis, Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia have been desecrated, and bomb threats at Jewish community centers are the new normal.

In the midst of this epidemic of hate crimes, Trump has remained largely silent.

The president’s seeming indifference emboldens and legitimizes these acts among his supporters. He permits others to create ethnic and religious tension as a way to make others feel alienated.

The problem with the travel ban and the attitude of the Trump administration as a whole is that they contradict American values. ”

The problem with the travel ban and the attitude of the Trump administration as a whole is that they contradict American values. Some Trump advocates defend their political views by saying that we must put “America first” or that we should “stop siding with terrorists.” Unless those people are Native American, they too are descended from immigrants. Imagine if Native Americans had created a vetting system for the first European settlers.

We’ve all heard success stories of immigrants who are scientists, lawyers or celebrities. Although these profiles are well-intended, they imply that immigrants only deserve equal rights and respect if they have achieved something amazing. Stop glorifying immigrants who have outstanding accomplishments and realize that everyone is worthy of basic human rights.

Interestingly, none of the seven countries included in the immigration ban have harmed Americans on U.S. soil in over 40 years. The somber truth behind the travel ban is something that many know yet few are willing to acknowledge. It’s the real reason we are turning refugees away during the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

Islamophobia.  

Muslims are required to prove themselves and their patriotism. Like it or not, each one of us is forced to serve as the face of our religion.”

It’s un-American that a white, non-Muslim man with immense power is deciding the fate of an entire religious group. Why else would 1.6 billion people be held accountable for the acts of a few extremists? People don’t generalize hate crimes, alt-right platforms like Breitbart or the actions of the KKK to the white population, yet Muslims are required to prove themselves and their patriotism. Like it or not, each one of us is forced to serve as the face of our religion.

It’s the reason why a Muslim attacker is often described as a “radical Islamic terrorist” while white people who perpetrate similar acts are called “mentally-ill” or “lone wolves” and are often humanized with irrelevant backstories that arouse sympathy. It’s why the 2015 Paris terrorist attack remained on the news for a month while the attack on Beirut, only one day before, killed 43 and wounded over 200 but received scant coverage in comparison. When extremist leaders attack, the first people they harm are their own. The immigration ban would just increase hatred against Muslims and further isolate minority communities.

In 1995, Tahir Faruqui immigrated to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan. He was fresh out of college, in search of an MBA and living at his brother’s apartment. He lived through America’s post-9/11 Islamophobia and endured the extra security checks at the airport, but he never let that stop him from achieving his own success. My dad made a life for himself, and that is the American Dream: people here can reach their goals if they’re willing to work for it. What Trump doesn’t understand is that the American Dream does not exclude based on racial or religious background. The “Make America Great Again” slogan is simply code for “Make America White Again,” and that is frightening.