Americans, immigrants affected by Trump’s travel ban

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Photo credit: Kiana Dolat

A protestor at LAX holds a sign with a quote from Mother Theresa on Jan. 29. Thousands of protestors gathered at airports around the world after President Trump signed an executive order banning seven predominantly Muslim countries. Photo courtesy of Banafsheh Salimi.

The first hundred days of the President of the United States’ presidency are often seen as an indicator of the overall success or failure of their term. Forty-fifth President Donald J. Trump hit the ground running immediately after swearing into office.

Only seven days into his first term, President Trump signed his fifth executive order meant to protect the nation from the potential entry of foreign terrorists.

The executive order, signed on Jan. 27, banned citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and suspended the admittance of refugees for 120 days. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen were the countries included in the ban.

Co-leader of the Archer Interfaith Association Iman Mohammed ‘18 said she thought the idea of the ban during Trump’s campaign was initially a publicity stunt until Trump realized people actually supported the concept and would vote for him. He mentioned it frequently during his campaign, so she was not completely shocked by the order, but she did not expect it to happen only one week after his inauguration.

“I figured that it would happen, or something like it would happen,” Mohammed said. “But I didn’t think it would be so soon.”

According to the order, its purpose is “to protect American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals,” such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. However, many perpetrators, including those responsible for the 9/11 attack
s and 2015 San Bernardino shooting, would not have been affected by the ban, since they were not from any of the barred countries. 

The executive order did not include Muslim-majority countries that have relations with the Trump Organization. But according to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on “Meet the Press,” concern over national safety influenced the selection of countries included in the travel ban, not business interests. More countries could be included in a following executive order.

Mohammed fears that Iran’s neighboring country of Pakistan could be on the next list and how that would impact her family living there.

“There’s already a very difficult political situation [there]. So, I know it’s not necessarily safe for me to visit my family there, but it scares me when it might be unsafe for them to visit me here. I guess they wouldn’t feel welcome, and they’d probably feel scared,” Mohammed said. “I feel scared right now, and I’m a citizen.”

Trump’s order was immediately met with opposition as demonstrators gathered at airports and other locations around the country.

Upset after hearing about the ban, Archer’s Assistant IT Systems Administrator Banafsheh Salimi joined thousands of other protesters at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 29. She had spent the entire previous day nervous for her friends traveling from Iran to Los Angeles, around the same time the order was signed. Her friends were soon released after arriving, since they are permanent U.S. residents and green card holders, and thus were exempt from the ban.

“Saturday was the worst day… It was really upsetting. But on Sunday, when I saw a lot of protests at LAX, it made me much, much happier — you see the support, and you see that you’re not alone, and everyone is together,” Salimi said.

She believes the refugee situation is unjust — that innocent citizens are forced to suffer while the fight is really between the countries’ governments.

“I don’t think they realize what they’re doing. The people are very innocent; [they’re] people who are suffering and are not going to harm anybody,” she said.

“[The countries] are fighting together and people are suffering,” Salimi said. “It’s so unfair.”

Aside from the protests, many took legal action to stop the ban.

By Feb. 1, four states and multiple individual plaintiffs sued Trump, and almost 100 tech companies also came together to oppose the ban in court. On Feb. 3, Washington state district court judge issued a restraining order to temporarily suspend the ban. After a public hearing, the appeals court declined to block the Washington judge’s order, on the grounds that there is a lack of evidence of threats posed by travelers from the banned countries.

“I was relieved, but also not surprised, because it seemed very unconstitutional for a number of reasons and [from] my understanding of immigration law,” math teacher and former political organizer Jason Ahmadi said.

“Banning particular people from either a religious group or from national origin is, from my understanding, something that was deemed unconstitutional in the 1960s, from the immigration reforms that happened then,” he said.

The ban generated support too, contributing to the strong racial and religious divide within America. Mohammed’s mosque was threatened following the attacks.

“[My mosque] had lots of calls from people who would commit hate crimes. Some people actually went as far as actually coming into the mosque, so we did have to [increase] security,” she said. “It’s crazy because this is the mosque I’ve been going to ever since I was three years old, and now every time I come in, they have to check my backpack.”

“It’s just scary feeling like you’re a target,” she added.

Although many might feel hopeless and afraid, Ahmadi encourages people to not let these policies cause fear.

“There are a lot of good people that are working against them,” he said. “A lot of lawyers, a lot of judges who believe this is unconstitutional and are making efforts to block this ban.”

President Trump plans keep fighting to block people from countries he sees as a threat from entering the country. However, Mohammed remains hopeful for the future of the country as long as people join her and continue to resist.

“I think that people have to realize that even as one person, you can make a change,” Mohammed said. “I think, even though this ban has been awful, the one good thing it has done is it brought a lot of minorities in the community together to stand in solidarity with each other.”

I think, even though this ban has been awful, the one good thing it has done is it brought a lot of minorities in the community together to stand in solidarity with each other.”

— Iman Mohammed

With the Archer Interfaith Association, Mohammed is trying to educate the community and take action. They plan to create a video and write letters to send to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other elected officials.

Whether this order is a part of what will turn out to be a successful or a failed presidency is unknown. What is already clear, however, is that this ban has inconvenienced many people from within the U.S. and the seven banned countries, especially families. As long as President Trump continues to pursue the ban’s enforcement, there will always be people who will resist.

“I think that that’s one thing I love about America,” Mohammed said. “Even when bad things like these happen, people stand up and say they don’t stand for it.”