By Olivia Pan, Opinions Editor
In late January, President Trump signed an executive order that banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspended all refugee admission for 120 days, and barred all Syrian refugees indefinitely. Homeland Security supposedly wanted to exclude green-card holders from the travel ban, but as this executive order played out that obviously did not happen.
Refugees, students, family members of American citizens, and people with proper documentation who live and work in the US (including people who work for the US military), were not allowed to travel. The legal challenges brought against those detentions were successful.
After our President then insulted the judicial branch of our government, it appears that this administration is now rewriting a new order that they believe will pass muster. It is likely they will have to backpedal all the way to one of their banned countries to make that happen.
This is what is troubling: the seven countries listed on Trump’s ban are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. There are other Muslim-majority countries with a higher population of Muslims that have actually produced more terrorists than those on this list, including the 9/11 terrorists, none of whom originated out of these banned countries. Why are these other countries not on the list if this is an attempt to keep the US safe? The president does have business holdings in these other Muslim-majority countries not on this list. That is a question for the ethical think tanks and constitutional lawyers to toss about. I hope they do so.
More importantly, why are we targeting a religion with a “travel ban”—a Muslim ban—rather than targeting terrorists? I did not feel any safer knowing that a college student did not get back to school, that a Mom from Iraq was delayed in coming home to her son, or that refugees who have waited months going through the process of resettlement were left abandoned and stranded. What is startling is that this is not 1845, 1949, or 1965. We know better but we seem to be regressing, due to fear-mongering by this administration.
On February 9th, wife and mother of two Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported back to her native country of Mexico. Rayos has lived in America for over twenty years, arriving here when she was only fourteen.
While Rayos was arrested for using a false social security number back in 2008, she is a non-violent offender and was only convicted of criminal impersonation. Rayos has been checking in with immigration since 2013, with no issues arising again. This is a woman with children—one only 14 years of age—and a husband. She has been working without incident for years. Her identity fraud was most likely an attempt to be paid and be able to work.
Rayos’ deportation follows Trump’s executive orders on immigration that very broadly define who should be considered a priority for deportation. According to CNN, Trump’s executive order also “gives a single immigration officer the ability to make judgments on threats to public safety, regardless of whether the person has been convicted of a crime.” Trump could have chosen, as promised, to prioritize serious, violent offenders, but that is not how this executive order was executed. It was a rotten mess.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos posed no real danger to society. We have to ask ourselves what we are so afraid of in this country. For me, it isn’t a woman who used a fake social security number to possibly gain work and be paid. Nor is it the other people without criminal records, rounded up by Immigration and Customs these past few days.
If you read about the history of immigration, our country has created immigration policy based on fear and prejudice, from the ban on the Chinese to the ban on parts of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The stakes are too high now to repeat that history. If we target a religion because of fear-mongering, we will ultimately create more hate and justify the radicalization of many young vulnerable Muslims, which is utter stupidity. We are less safe based on our own policies. If we offer no safe haven or amnesty for people from Mexico who have worked and cultivated a life here for years, then we lack compassion and have given up to racial prejudice.
Worse, if we build some crazy wall with a door (Trump said the door thing, look it up—not ‘fake news’), to the tune of $21.6 billion (yes, the real estimate), we are throwing away $21.6 billion dollars that could go towards Chicago inner city after-school programs, job training, help for single female head of household welfare recipients who need job training and child care, and the myriad of other needs to help support a certain subset of Trump supporters who feel disenfranchised.
For the record, a majority of new immigrants are from Asia, and work in tech. Additionally, other groups come here and join the military, which is the second biggest employment subset. If Trump keeps on with the anti-Muslim ban and the insane wall with a door, we are going to need those wonderful immigrants to fight all those skirmishes he is creating.
Signing off, Your Opinions Editor, Scottish, French, and Chinese, and not Native American. Maybe we should gather up all those first illegals, the Mayflower descendants and send them and their kin back to where they came from!
Photograph Credits: YouTube