Trump Travel ban, and Refugee depersonalizing

Trump signed a new executive order that bans the admission of refugees for 120 days. It also blocks citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from obtaining visas for 90 days.

I spent my spring break in France this year. While there, I had the opportunity to meet a refugee family from Aleppo, Syria. Through talking with them I discovered that they are a muslim family. They have 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls. It took them 12,000 dollars, and 10 months of enduring life threatening conditions, and many hardships to finally be able to come settle in Marseille, France. Even after being admitted into the country as refugees, their troubles were not over. They were provided with a small apartment with reduced rent in a low-income housing neighborhood, which happens to be in a very dangerous part of the city. During some sort of orientation, in which they were briefly explained “how things work in France” they were told that because of limited living spaces and many people to house, they have six months to find another place to live. Let us keep in mind that non of the members of this family speak any significant amount of French. The father of the family was a baker in Syria, he owned his own bakery and was quite successful. Of the two eldest children, their daughters, the oldest, who is married and has one child, was not able to leave Syria with her family, and is still in Aleppo. Their other daughter was an architecture student at a University near Aleppo. Their three sons were in high school and middle school.

While talking with them, although I discovered many things I didn’t know, there was one thing that stuck with me most. “We don’t want to be here”, they said. “We had a good life in Syria, and we didn’t want to leave”. As Americans I think we sometimes forget that refugees are also individuals. It seems like the media, and all these statistics has taken the personal aspect out of the refugee crisis. We see the refugees as millions of desperate people trying to get into our country in any way possible; millions of people that are going to spread Islam and take over our country. This is an obvious exaggeration, but it sometimes feels as though that is how they are portrayed.

We are all entitled to our own opinion, and all free to let our opinion be know in any way we please. However, I think it is tremendously important to get a little perspective when forming an opinion on something like this new travel ban. Let us not forget their side of the story, the fact that refugees never wanted to leave their country in the first place — they were forced out. Let us not forget that they would like to return to their homes and their lives, but cannot. When forming opinions it is of the upmost importance to take into account all sides of the story and not simply our self centered outlook.

This family told me that in the area that they lived, their neighbors were Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even some Buddhists — they had no problems between religious groups but got along as friends and neighbors.


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