President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday, January 27, that banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees from entering the country for 120 days. As of Friday, at least 130 million people cannot enter the United States, regardless of their family ties, jobs, or medical emergencies.
The ban even seems to apply to those who have already gone through the rigorous process of obtaining a green card. On Saturday morning, Trump’s administration clarified that nationals of the seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen – who hold green cards and refugee visas could be detained or refused entrance to the United States on a case-by-case basis. On Sunday, Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, suggested that green card holders would not be affected, but quickly contradicted himself by saying that those traveling to the seven affected countries would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, including U.S. citizens.
Based on anecdotal evidence, individuals being detained under the executive order at U.S. airports, including green card holders, are being evaluated for entry, based on their social media feed, as well as their personal views about President Trump.
I want to repeat: Green card holders were handcuffed, their social media was reviewed, and they were asked their views on Trump#MuslimBan
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) January 28, 2017
In the wake of the ban’s announcement, one Twitter user, @dyllyp, told the story of a teenage translator who helped his unit survive their tours of duty in Iraq:
I told this story about #refugees a couple years ago on Veterans Day with a humorous slant. I’m going to tell it again today, unfiltered.
— odp (@dyllyp) January 28, 2017
Years ago, on my first deployment to Iraq, I befriended a local boy, Brahim, who would quickly become one of our interpreters. He was able to do so, bc the turnover rate for local nationals work with us was enormous. And not bc they quit, bc they were killed. Besides the money, we were able to get them to volunteer with us by promising them refugee status in the U.S. if they completed a tour. (But really, I think the chain of command knew that most interpreters wouldn’t make it through their contracts alive.)
Anyway, Brahmin would tell me about all the family members he lost in the conflict–brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, all of em. He told me how he lived in a one bedroom house with 7 people. No clean, power every other week because of the rolling blackouts, etc. He told me how they did have the basic necessities most days and that him volunteering w/ us was one of their sole sources of income.
One day, I went down to the PX and bought him $20, maybe $30 worth of toiletries. Nbd really. Just didn’t want dude to smell like shit. When I presented it to him, he cried. Literally bawled his eyes out and said he give his life for me. OVER SOAP. Completely sobering.
He spent the next year acting as our liaison, providing us with valuable intel, essentially saving our lives on a daily basis. At 16. At the end of my tour in Iraq, I knew I was leaving him to die. I knew I’d never see him again. Was just kinda like “take care kid.”
Fast forward 5-years. And I’m flying home to Phoenix to bury my little brother who was brutally murdered. (Gun violence is another subj.) I remember the day like it was yesterday. I cried my eyes out all the way from Hawaii to Arizona. Fucking brutal. Spend 6 years fighting wars and you don’t expect to get a phone call that your kid brother was randomly murdered in a carjacking.
Anyway, I land in Arizona and it’s pouring. Hop off and walk down to the taxi stand. (Uber’s weren’t really a thing in 2013.) I get in the first taxi that pulls up and we’re off. Driver starts to make the standard small talk. Where you from, what do you do, etc. I tell him I just got out of the military and blah blah. He says “oh great. I love the military. You ever travel anywhere?” Tell him, “Sure. Been to every corner of the globe. Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.” He says “Oh! I’m from Iraq! What part?” I say “Kirkuk, mostly.” And he says “Im from Kirkuk.” And then gets really fucking quiet. Like awkwardly quiet. Making me nervous quiet.
My first thought is I killed one of his family members and he recognizes me. And now im literally getting ready to bail out of the cab. I see him staring at me in the rear view. I can see the anguish in his eyes. And then he starts to PULL THE CAB TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. He stops, turns around and says, “Dylan, you remember me? It’s me, Brahim.” And I’m like wtffffff. And just start sobbing.
We got out of that taxi off the I10 and Rural and hugged it out on a bridge in the rain on some Notebook shit. I didn’t ever care, man. So I’m like WTF ARE YOU DOING IN FUCKING ARIZONA?! HOW? MAN WHAT? And he’s like I did my 4 years and they gave me a visa.
They gave him some cash and a 1 way ticket to the States. Asked him where he wanted to go, and he said where the weather is like Iraq. So they sent him to Arizona. 5 years after I left him in Iraq and a few days after my younger brother was violently murdered, the universe linked us up again.
Brahim literally saved my life, twice.
— odp (@dyllyp) January 28, 2017
Brahim spent four years risking his life for a country that is now trying to bar him from re-entry.
Trump’s travel ban is a fulfilment of his December 2015 promise to ban all Muslims, is unconstitutional, and antithetical to everything the United States stands for.
All Americans must fight back. Call or write your elected officials. Donate your time or money to organizations like the ACLU, who are already working to fight the ban. Attend a protest at your local airport to show President Trump that you do not support his Muslim ban.
In the words of South African social justice activist, Desmond Tutu, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”