OPED: Trump travel ban devastates families

Tasmiha Khan
Tribune News Service

My neighbor, Qais, came to the United States from Yemen in the 1970s. With less than $100 in his wallet, he set out to create a better future for his family. Accustomed to warfare and violence, Qais sought peace and freedom from chaos. Little did he know that his family would be separated due to policies set forth by the Trump administration in 2017.

Qais lives in the suburbs of Chicago with this wife and four children along with two grandchildren, Noha and Saleh, who have parents in Yemen. (All names are pseudonyms, to protect the family.) The parents have been stuck in Yemen since March 2017, unable to return due to the new travel restrictions.

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The father's hands are coarse from years of working in a steel factory. The mother was a farmer in Yemen who brought her gardening skills to the states, where she enjoyed growing her own food. All that they want is to be reunited with their family. They are devastated to be separated from their loved ones.

Noha and Saleh, ages 9 and 11, miss their mother's warm kisses and father's bear hugs. It is a terrible thing that President Donald Trump has done, putting families like these under such distress.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Trump vs. Hawaii, a case involving the third iteration of Trump's Muslim travel ban. While the ban ostensibly excludes nationals from eight countries for security reasons, it is clearly intended to exclude Muslims. Sadly, the court is seen as likely to uphold the ban when it issues its decision, expected by late June.

Trump, in his speeches and tweets, has done nothing to disavow his Islamophobia; instead, he has embraced it. His travel ban is merely another move toward what Trump called for as a candidate — a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. Several courts have ruled that Trump's statements made clear his intention to discriminate based on religion.

More:Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban

And so, for now, Qais waits. Noha and Saleh wait. Their friends and neighbors wait. We as a nation wait, hoping things will turn out well in the end.

Our country stands for religious freedom for all. We should feel comfortable to adhere to the religion we choose to and engage in religious practices that do not harm anyone. Being a Muslim should not be a crime in what is supposed to be the "Land of the free," regardless of where you were born.

No matter what the Supreme Court rules, penalizing a whole group of people simply based on their race, religion, or ethnicity is antithetical to American values. After all, we are weaker as a nation when we let fear be our guide. United we stand, divided we fall.

— Tasmiha Khan is pursuing her masters in social impact at Claremont Lincoln University while also working with Brighter Dawns, a nonprofit aimed at improving lives for the impoverished.