As a Canadian citizen, if I had to be subject to multiple requests for evidence and wait 2.5 years for a green card, I could only imagine what lied in store for immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries under a Trump administration. Thankfully, my green card was approved in the last month of President Obama’s tenure — while relieved to put this prolonged episode behind me, I was alarmed by the rapid escalation of hateful anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and felt compelled to speak out.
As we know, days into his presidency, Trump hit quick, and he hit hard, announcing a travel ban on all refugees and citizens from seven Middle Eastern and African countries, including green card holders. As countless Muslim immigrants and their families reeled from the fallout of the executive order, hundreds of lawyers and volunteers quickly organized at American airports nationwide, and thousands more angrily protested the unconstitutional nature of the immigration ban.
This past week, I joined the #NoBanUSA/#NoBanJFK coalition of volunteers at JFK airport to help spread the word about efforts on the ground supporting detained travelers and their families. Fortunately, most of them had been released by that point, but thousands more were still being affected by the ban, both domestically and abroad. Several volunteers bemoaned the fact that the initial deluge of camera crews had dried up and the news cycle had moved on, away from what was still very much an ongoing crisis.
One of the volunteers, a U.S. born American of Arab descent, was genuinely terrified for herself and her family, ahead of an upcoming trip to Egypt. And as we were drafting our evening press release, a man roughly my age approached us seeking legal counsel, visibly concerned that his mother, en route from Syria, might have trouble entering the country. Their stories touched me deeply and it wasn’t a stretch to relate; if it had been my mom, I’d have been completely beside myself. We’re all human, after all.
As I left JFK that night, determined to continue fighting the immigration ban, I couldn’t quite quell the dread I felt thinking about four potential years of caustic alternative facts and alt-right diatribes. Which is why the following day I was overjoyed to learn that a federal judge had ruled against Trump, albeit temporarily, allowing travel to resume to the U.S. effective immediately, until a full hearing on the legitimacy of the executive order could take place.
For now, order has been restored in the world, and we can breathe a sigh of relief. Yet true to his vindictive, win-at-all-costs nature, Trump has already vowed to fight back. He would be wise however to not underestimate our resolve — as one of my fellow volunteers so aptly said,