US President Donald Trump’s executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and calls for additional screening ”to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”
The order stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Among those hit by Trump’s travel ban and detained in airports for hours were also green card holders, lawful permanent US residents, holders of valid immigrant visas, work visas, and student visas that had been approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Countless students and university professors and researchers are afraid to leave the US to visit family because they are afraid that they will be barred from returning. It is as if they are in house arrest and cannot travel freely.
In a report for Washington Post, writer Sarah Kaplan questions the effects of Trump’s ban, “What would it mean for the American scientific community, which is composed of nearly 20 percent immigrants, and which depends on collaboration with researchers from all over the world?”
Yousra Elbagir wrote for The Guardian of the stories of people directly impacted by the travel ban. Elbagir mentioned the story of a Syrian green card holder who was denied boarding on an airplane from Dubai headed to the US. Her family, her job, her whole life is in the US and when she asks when she we will be allowed to go home, none of the airplane agency staff know what to say. Unfortunately because she’s Syrian it’s difficult for her to go anywhere else.
At the moment her chances of getting into the US depend on which airport she goes to. If she’s landing in New York they’ll send her back, if it’s Houston for example, they might accept her. None knows how long she will be stuck in the airport in Dubai.
In a report for CNN Politics by Jeremy Diamond and Steve Almasy, they wrote, “The International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid and refugee assistance group, called Trump’s decision to suspend refugee admissions harmful and hasty. Refugees must undergo an extensive vetting process — it typically takes more than two years to be admitted to the United States as a refugee.”
“In truth, refugees are fleeing terror — they are not terrorists,” David Miliband, the group’s president, said in a statement to the CNN.
Amidst the chaos and confusion in airports, we also saw unprecedented acts of solidarity and freedom of religious expression, despite the hate and division that Trump’s executive order is creating.
Protests were held in airports across the US to show solidarity with the stranded travelers and to demand their release. At Dallas/Fort Worth International airport in Texas, after protesting for hours, it was the time for dhuhr prayer, the second prayer of the day for Muslims. Dozens of Muslim men and women walked to a quiet side of the terminal, lined up, and prayed, led by Imam Omar Suleiman.
In different towns across America, Christian church goers are visiting their neighborhood mosques to show solidarity with their Muslim neighbors. In the small town of Sylvania Ohio, last Friday a large group of Christians visited the local mosque and listened to the Friday sermon and prayer. People of all faiths were invited through the doors on the Muslim holy day of the week. In the audience were Christians, watching, listening, and absorbing a different religion. It was a beautiful gathering.
Another unexpected response to the Trump travel ban is that the CEO of Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries where it operates over the next five years. The CEO added that Starbucks is working to help employees who may be affected by Trump’s executive order.
Big companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Linked In, and Ford also spoke out against the executive order to ban Syrian refugees from the US. Google is putting up $2 million to help fund organizations that will fight back against the immigration ban. About 50 major American companies are discussing ways to help the millions of displaced people in the US and abroad.
A report for Money by Brad Tuttle mentioned another American company that is supporting refugees and immigrants in the US. Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant founder of the famous Greek yogurt brand Chobani is doing extensive work with refugees. Nearly 30% of Chobani’s employees are refugees, most working in US factories. Ulukaya has personally pledged to give the majority of his fortune to help support the world’s displaced peoples.