As the daughter of two immigrants and a first-generation American I am growing frustrated with the minutia that both sides of the media have been using to distract from the core problems with this travel ban. I am also a Christian whose father experienced persecution for his faith in God, so it offends me to see the government claiming to justify this in the name of protecting persecuted Christians when they are simply increasing the level of danger for those believers.
1. The persecution of Christians in Syria must stop – Yes, Mr. Trump, it must. However, nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to rely on you in the face of persecution. We must rely on God to stand with us in the midst of spiritual warfare and ISIS has waged no war on the United States but only on Christians. This means that Christians are at risk in EVERY part of the world, including the countries that are being left out of US immigration and the Christians in countries like Pakistan and Turkey where much persecution already exists. I grew up in Kenya and Al-Shabaab will do the same to Christians in East Africa.
2. This will make things safer for those persecuted Christians –No, Mr. Trump, it won’t. This will simply place a bigger target on Christians, especially after claiming to be more lenient with those refugees. ISIS will use this as a propaganda tool to paint believers in the region as partners of the “enemy”. Also, if extremists have developed ways to circumvent many interrogation tactics and travel restrictions in the past, it is fairly asinine to think that they cannot get around a religious test and a passport restriction. I know missionaries in the area and none of them feel safer, even if your supporters who have never been to the Middle East might feel secure.
3. Obama did the same thing to Iraqis –No, Mr. Trump, he didn’t. He had a 6-month review of Iraqi refugees after two were able to plot the placement of bombs but were thwarted. This slowed down the immigration but did not stop it entirely. In addition, he consulted officials who had far more experience than himself in order to carry it out while you worked unilaterally (well, you consulted your flunkies so not entirely I suppose). There was also some notice and knowledge of what was going on so that Iraqi refugees who were already granted status could be aware of the changes. You simply slammed the door with no consideration of those who have already been a part of this country for years. My childhood friend was removed from a plane in Iran. She has been in the US since her freshman year of college when she had a scholarship and student visa. She then got a wonderful job and is now on the H1B visa (the “genius” visa) and hopes to find her husband and settle in this country so that her children can be Americans as well. She wants to get a green card and be a part of this country, but she was told that she could not go home from a visit with her family because of her Iranian passport. If she is stuck there for some time and loses her job as a result, then she will lose her H1B visa and be forced to go through this whole process again.
4. If we had waited, then people could have sneaked over quickly – No, Mr. Trump, they couldn’t. There is a two year vetting process before a refugee can come here, and weeks of waiting and vetting for a visa. Once anyone with a visa enters this country, people know it. Trust me, my family traveled for most of my childhood and if there was an Embassy within 100 miles they knew who was who in the area. That would have been far easier to monitor than now having to backtrack and find the people with green cards and visas who were simply visiting relatives when the order went out and were not allowed to return home. The concern is not in people who are traveling through legal channels, why would a terrorist wait that long to carry out an attack?
5. This is not a Muslim Ban –Well, Mr. Trump, it’s turned out to be one. I understand that we need to know what the intention was as citizens. However, what is done is done and at this point if it wasn’t intended as a Muslim Ban it has turned out to be one. Getting caught up in trying to read the great abyss that is Trump’s mind is fruitless. What we need to recognize is the sacrifice that many Muslims from these countries have made to support our military on the ground and to resist Islamic extremism in their own families. For two US contractors who became refugees because of the support they lent our troops to be detained at JFK and spend hours in fear of being deported and killed in Iraq is something that we should all be ashamed of as humans, not only as Americans. For students whom I know personally, who love this country more than their own, this is shameful treatment. In addition, the ban is a gift to extremists who have been working hard to create a narrative that the country of the US has waged a war against Muslims rather than extremists.
6. Out of over 300,000 only 109 were detained – Yes, Mr. Trump, but that’s not all. You are conveniently leaving out the 348 who were not allowed to board plans