The Truth About the 'Travel Ban'
As I write this I am in Las Vegas waiting for a doctor's appointment, scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing everything there is to see about the Travel Ban taking effect tonight. My Social Media is pretty progressive, so I don't see anyone celebrating this as a victory of any sort. However, just because someone is progressive does not mean they understand the reality of this so called travel ban.
First, this is not a travel ban. This is a Muslim Ban. Plain and simple. The supreme court has constantly upheld Islamophobic and other systemically oppressive policies. If the highest court in this land was not systemically oppressive we would not be living in the same country that most of us experience every single day. This is a very simple reality, but one that must be taken seriously. This is not a single person hating a group of people, this is an institution that has constantly upheld systemic oppression and has even expanded it to ensure that White Supremacy becomes untouchable through an American court room. If you can acknowledge all this, then fantastic.
However, we can't stop there. The reality is that the Muslim Ban has been in effect for years, but we are now beginning to be outraged. And by years, I'm not just talking post 9/11. I remember when my family was getting our visa to come to the United States for the first time. My dad was getting his PhD, and we weren't sure if we'd all be allowed to go with him. Yes, families have been split up simply because the institution allows embassies to deny ANYBODY entry. Even though my dad had a PhD acceptance from a US university, and was an incredibly qualified Engineer, there was nothing that would require the embassy to allow any or all of us to go with him. This is pre-9/11, from a country that's not even on this list.
Fast forward a few years, and I wait for my own visa appointment, watching tens of individuals with job offers and school acceptances get denied for seemingly no reason. Sure, there was the one kid who came with their dad and didn't speak a single word, but in a Just system, has acceptance into a US university, where he was going to a 2 year language program, should have been accepted. The fear of being denied is very real, and has been for a very long time.
The reality is that this 'bona fide relationship' that the Supreme court is now requiring has ALWAYS been there for Muslim majority, and other countries. I have never heard of someone from Jordan getting a US visa for absolutely no reason. It simply does not happen, and you can be sure that it does not happen from the six countries on this list.
The reality is that if having a 'bona fide relationship' is a guarantee for a visa then we'd be taking a gigantic step forward from the way the current system is. Your credentials, connections, and your relationships do not matter most of the time, and are not a guarantee for a visa. Even if you've been here for multiple years, and are in the middle of your studies, you might still get denied.
Before coming to the US for my undergraduate degree I was constantly warned about not going back to visit until I was done with my education. I didn't listen, but many do, fearing that even after a few years in their universities they might be denied entry.
We must acknowledge this reality, as most Americans do not know the reality of US immigration, and Foreign Policy.
So, what can you do? Here are a few tips to support individuals that are impacted by US Immigration and Foreign policy. These are things that are in response to this Muslim Ban and other things we're seeing today.
1) Be Real- Many individuals are outraged over this ban. But, if you are not outraged over everything that US immigration and Foreign policy has put individuals through then you're only seeing a singular Trump-related problem. This problem is not Trump, this is probably much larger than he could ever be. It's no secret, our education system has failed us in understanding the true impact US foreign policy has. Get educated in these areas, and constantly be open to new information that is entirely different from what you were taught as a kid.
2) Support Sanctuary Cities and Understand the role you play- We can all say we support sanctuary cities, but what does that actually look like? Are you supporting the organizations making it happen and do you have a plan of action if this fails? ICE is currently showing up at courtrooms, schools, and many other places that should be safe.
3) Support Grassroots organizations that are working to make this country safe- You don't need to do all the work yourself, but you can support organizations that are. Try becoming a monthly donor for a few organizations that are working tirelessly to help. Similarly, how much do you know about what happens once individuals are on US soil? Standing with refugees doesn't stop with them coming to the US. We must support organizations working with the refugee community, such as MCL, and stand against the US Foreign Policy that is causing this problem in the first place.
4) Show up- Organize and be there when organizations are showing up. Ultimately, this will not be solved in the courts, this is in the hands of the people. Also, showing up tells the individuals affected by this that you stand with them. I hate making this us vs them, but at the moment many individuals don't know who they can trust. Show up, and show us that you are an Ally.
5) Ask Individuals how you can support them. Everyone is different, and their needs will be slightly different. Reach out to communities that are dealing with the repercussions of US Foreign Policy.
These are just a few things you can start doing today. Again, WE can make a difference, and make changes that are centuries late.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days. An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.