South community reacts to executive travel ban

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Alexandra Sharp, co-features editor

Originally passed on Jan. 27, President Donald Trump’s first major step in what he says is an attempt to battle terrorism was an executive travel ban, halting many refugees from entering the US and beginning the process of ‘extreme vetting’. Since the original, another revised plan has been issued, including some of the same aspects as the original order. While some South students are thankful for and supportive of Trump’s protective measures, others are saddened and angered by what they believe is a discriminatory act.

More than 218 million people from six Muslim majority nations will be banned from entering the US, according to CNN, giving the executive order the nickname ‘Muslim Ban’. At South, opinions towards the ban vary, from very supportive of its regulations to extremely against its rulings. In a non-scientific Oracle-conducted survey of 249 students, 61.04 percent did not support this executive order. One such individual is senior Genevieve Thompson, whose work with Middle Eastern individuals allows her to see the good in a culture that she believes has received negative backlash.

“I know that there are bad people from [the Middle East], but the way of making the world safer isn’t by building walls or separating people […] us from them,” Thompson said. “It’s by uniting people by a common goal, which is peace [and] only showing love.”

Although Thompson lives in the US, she feels the travel ban has negatively impacted her life by hindering her volunteer work at a refugee community center in Chicago. Due to the ban on refugees, according to Thompson, the community center was unable to help as many families suffering in Syria as they would have been able to if the travel ban was not implemented. Therefore, Thompson believes Trump’s travel ban creates a racist agenda against Muslims, hurting innocent people rather than stopping violent terrorists.

“I think [creating the ban is] the most inhumane act a human being can commit because it just shows that there’s a nationalist spirit in our country that makes people feel that Americans’ lives are more important than other human being’s lives,” Thompson said. “[…] I believe that one life is equal to any other life. So by not allowing people in need [into] our country, that’s committing a crime against humanity.”

Senior Julius Khamoo is also personally affected by the travel ban because he has family currently living in Syria. In contrast to Thompson, Khamoo is grateful for Trump’s executive order and does not believe it is discriminatory towards Muslims. Rather than feeling angry about Trump’s policies, Khamoo feels much safer knowing that Trump is working to ensure America’s safety above all else.

“It’s not like [the ban is] geared towards hatred like towards the Muslim people,” Khamoo said. “I don’t think that it is. I think that honestly, we already have problems in our own nation that we need to take care of […]. I hate how we always have to go around the world trying to get involved. Really we shouldn’t. We should be focusing on our home.”

Similarly to Khamoo and Thompson, maintenance worker Sahar Barkho is impacted by Trump’s travel ban. Stewart Adam, her husband and a fellow South maintenance worker, was restricted from seeing his parents due to their Syrian citizenship. According to Barkho, her in-laws were in the midst of applying for legal citizenship when they were told the ban restricts them from finishing the process.

“[My in-laws] almost had an interview to come to the United States as a refugee and once Trump [made] that [law], he banned them,” Barkho said. “[…] My father-in-law is 85 years old–his health is not well–my mother-in-law, she’s 80 years old. I didn’t get […] what those two people as old people will do [that’s supposedly harmful].”

Although Barkho did not agree with portions of the original travel ban, there were segments she supported. Specifically, she respected Trump for implementing extreme vetting of young adults and stating that he will help fellow Christians like herself who are fleeing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, according to Barkho, she disapproved of his discriminatory ban of Muslims, believing that no entire religion can be defined as dangerous.

“All Muslims are not bad,” Barkho said. “It’s like a gang. There’s [a] Chinese gang, Middle Eastern gang, […] Christian gang. You’re not going to say, ‘Oh, because they have [a] Christian gang, all Christians are bad or Muslim gang all Muslims are bad’. […] There’s bad and good in every religion, I think.”

With all of the anxiety and sadness Barkho and Adam have faced from the original travel ban, they are very thankful for the supportive community South offers them, according to Barkho. Although she cannot rid herself of her fears, she tries to remain hopeful when thinking of her family’s future, especially now that the lasting effects of the revised travel ban are still unknown.

“I’m hoping everything will be okay,” Barkho said. “My hope always is positive. I like to, even if it’s not, I like to make it positive, so [I] can live. Because if I think about [my family’s situation], […] it would drive me crazy.”