Travel Ban Unites Americans Against Bigotry

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Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban was intended to divide America. It achieved the opposite.

“Make America Great Again.”

That’s been President Donald Trump’s motto since he decided to run for office. But is there really a need to make America great again?

As the Trump administration is getting ready to issue a new travel ban, one has to question whether this new executive order will indeed make America great again. Judging from events witnessed across the US following the issuance of the initial travel ban, I say, we are already great.

No Hate No Fear

Nothing has reflected this more than the strong backlash the Trump administration received in the hours, days and weeks following the travel ban issued on January 27. As soon as Trump signed the executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from seven majority Muslim countries for 90 days, airports and streets across the United States were flooded with Americans from all walks of life who came together to protest this outrageous ban.

From Boston to California to Nebraska to Washington, protesters held signs that screamed, “No Ban No Wall,” “Resist” and “I am Muslim too.”

Thousands of protesters flooded the airports in major cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. These protesters held signs and chanted slogans such as “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”

Immigration lawyers were also making their way to airports. Lawyers from prominent law firms and nonprofits huddled together in airport terminals, working pro-bono and filing emergency habeas corpus motions for detainees.

These initiatives were not only taking place in major cities, but were spreading throughout the nation. Here in the Triad, North Carolina, the travel ban led to protests in support of refugee and immigrant rights, a cultural event on exploring Islam held at the High Point Young Women’s Christian Association, and just last week the YWCA held a refugee and immigrant Know Your Rights workshop.

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I Am Muslim Too

Many mosques and Muslim communities across the nation welcomed visits by local officials and non-Muslims—people who came to express their sorrow and regret for the ban and confirm their support for the Muslim community.

While for a time now, Muslim women wearing headscarves risked public verbal—and sometimes physical—attack, the travel ban brought an opposite reaction to veiled women. I have Muslim friends who were stopped by complete strangers in public just to tell them they were glad to see veiled women and that they were welcome here.

The ban also piqued many non-Muslims’ curiosity about Islam. In a recent weekend event sponsored by our local mosque to provide clothing donations to refugees, two young women approached the Muslim female volunteers, requesting resources to help them gain a better understanding of Islam and Islamic teachings.

The ban also impacted media coverage of Muslims, introducing more diverse coverage and individual stories of Muslim men and women affected by the ban. Instead of the usual media images of Muslim extremists and terrorists, news outlets across the nation were spreading images and stories of Muslim husbands, wives, brothers, mothers, sons and daughters. There were stories of hardworking Muslim men and women who, thanks to Trump’s ban, were prevented from getting back to their families, jobs or college studies.

For the first time, as a Muslim-American, I got to see diverse images of everyday Muslims, including doctors, engineers, artists, students, children and, most importantly, Muslims as people with feelings. These stories and images replaced those of Muslim extremists, which more often than not supersede.

On the political side, everything from the Trump campaign to the administration’s recent actions to the rise of Islamophobia and bigotry has encouraged members of the Muslim community to get involved in politics. This month, a campaign was launched by Jetpac Inc. to enable Muslim Americans to train and run for office, a move that will surely bring positive change on the long run.

Unifying America

Rather than divide us, I say this travel ban has unified America in so many ways.

Trump’s ban drew Americans closer together. Whether it was lawyers cooperating to help detainees, or strangers chanting in streets, or the media sharing stories of human struggle, this ban forced us to examine our differences and our diversity and to realize that this is what truly makes America great.

So, as the Trump administration gets ready to release its revised version of the travel ban, as a Muslim-American I can say that I no longer worry over outrageous and unconstitutional administrative orders.

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The events of these past weeks have instilled in me hope, strength and confidence that the majority of my fellow Americans appreciate the melting pot that encompasses our diversity. The majority of Americans have indeed proven that we are already great and will continue to be great in our unity and respect for each other’s differences.

As one protest sign held in a recent Time Square protest reads: “Ironically, he united us in solidarity.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Pgiam

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