By TESSA CATE
With the ease and nonchalance of a shopper signing their receipt at CVS, President Trump signed an executive order – is anyone still counting? – temporarily barring citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States and banning Syrian refugees indefinitely. This action incited pure chaos (as everyone scrolling through their Facebook feeds can attest to) and will not end there. With one scribble of his pen, Trump doused an already hot-button issue with all the lighter fluid needed to set it ablaze.
The executive order, signed Friday, Jan. 28, not only keeps citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from leaving their countries for the United States, but was already applied to those in the air and on their way. According to The New York Times, “an estimated 100 to 200 people [were] detained upon arrival at American airports” last weekend. That is 100 to 200 too many.
Yes, the intent of the executive order is to protect our country from those who would like nothing more than to harm us, but this is not the way to do it. Families should not have to wait anxiously at the airport for hours worrying about whether or not they will see their loved ones.
Lawyers should not have to flock to said airports to aid people who would have had no trouble entering the country two weeks ago. Furthermore, an entire religion should not have to suffer under the heat of an international spotlight for the actions of a small percentage of its worshipers.
Blacklisting Muslims and lumping them into one category was terrible judgment on the government’s part, with very high and unintended consequences. The goal was to work toward the eradication of Islamist terrorism, but the government may have just fueled it.
Now that we have entered into the “unintended consequences” territory of the aftermath, we must fight to keep the immigration dialogue going. Luckily, it is more open than ever, including fed up government officials, enraged lawyers and all of your friends’ moms on Facebook. This controversial decision has brought members of all races, religions and cultures together in solidarity because as quickly as the so-called immigrants were detained, we responded.
Despite our differences, we came together as one (pissed off) people, speaking volumes about our country’s character. That being said, the rash and amateur decision made by President Trump last Friday does not match up with the principles this country was founded on and the values we hold dear. This is a country of immigrants – everyone is from somewhere else. If the government continues this display of intolerance and exclusion, our meltingpot mentality means nothing.
This sweeping blanket ban, bringing with it hatred, generalization and intolerance, is just a fraction of the negative energy Trump has brought into the White House. It is one thing to proceed with grace and care for others while still protecting your country and helping it to prosper. It is another to degrade, shame and blacklist, claiming good intentions. It is as if instead of, “It’s not you, it’s me,” he went with “It’s actually you. Now get out of my country.”
While our government is busy moving us in the opposite direction of progress, peace and tolerance, we have the opportunity to rise to the challenge and work for it ourselves. For us college students, this does not mean donating large sums of money – although, the ACLU is a great place to send some extra dollars – or protesting until we have run AC Moore out of their poster board supply.
It means doing something as simple as being accepting of others. If we want to change the country, we must first start close to home. This means being compassionate, open and understanding, and above all, keeping in mind why we do it in the first place.