Several years ago a young American woman went to Dubai for an adventure. It’s an amazing diaspora and from what I have heard from this woman and others it’s a great place to combine work and adventure and travel. It is a time to be free, to learn about other cultures, and bask in the energy of those who share that same zest.
She met a young man from Syria. They started dating just as his time in Dubai drew to a close. He went off to London to do his Masters and as she was lucky enough to have five weeks vacation so they crossed Europe meeting in old cities soaking up culture and cultivating their love.
This young woman decided she wanted to go back to school to become a doctor. Time away can help you chart your course in life. The obvious place for her to do this was back home in America, so her young man left his British employment prospects behind and followed her to the United States. Her road to becoming a doctor would not be a fast or an easy one, and so he put his career on hold for hers. She had waited for him and now he would wait for her. She had some postbaccalaureate training to complete, she was accepted into medical school and graduated, and then accepted into a residency.
Along the way she married her love. He got a Green card. They had a baby. When your partner works full-time and you are a doctor-in-training the practicalities of childcare can be very challenging. For example, if you are on call in the hospital and your spouse is caught up at work what happens? The options are expensive sitters or your spouse, with the new career that he has already interrupted, takes the hit at work.
The solution seemed simple enough, fly grandma and grandpa over from Syria to care for their grandchild while the young mother and doctor is on her month-long rotation working nights. It’s a win for everyone. Grandparents see baby. Husband sees parents. Doctor mom has less stress.
Except this morning the resident was very upset. We chatted about the news. Her husband was driving his Syrian parents to the airport as they were due to leave. When will he see them again? What will happen in a few months when she has to work every night again? What if his mother or father gets ill? If he flies to see them he may not be able to reunite with his child and wife. We didn’t know each other well so she was trying not to cry. I turned away to chart because I too was trying not to cry.
There is a brother in another country whose wife is due any day. There were tentative vacation plans to go visit, but not now. There were too many stories of Green Card holders being sent back, and anyway what if the rules change again? No, they can only fly somewhere that doesn’t require a passport. The husband has sat in secondary screening in immigration enough times to know that you speak when you are spoken to and having a Green Card doesn’t always matter. In immigration you are made to feel guilty the second they pull you out of line. I too am an immigrant and before 9-11 was pulled aside for secondary screening a few times and was scared. Let that sink in, as a white woman from Canada pre-9-11 I was afraid in secondary screening so I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Syrian man with Trump in the Whitehouse.
He has a Master’s degree, worked for years paying taxes, has a wife and a child. He is from a country that has never sent a terrorist to American soil, yet he is treated like a criminal. He accepts this maltreatment because he knows if he speaks up or causes a fuss it will be worse. He has brown skin. He is from Syria. Facts are irrelevant. He and everyone who looks or sounds like him is our Emmanuel Goldstein.
They only fly internationally though San Francisco airport now, that way if he is detained for hours my resident can take her young son home. Hours of waiting in Dulles or Newark Liberty with missed flights, not even knowing when he will be out so they can rebook, just too much to bear with a child in tow.
And so here we are. Grandparents unable to visit. The ignominy of the secondary screenings he can bear, but the fear of not returning he cannot. A young doctor stressed.
Kellyanne Conway says my resident and her family are paying “a small price,” but what I heard this morning sounds like a lot more than a small price. It sounds like the entire lives of a law-abiding couple being thrown into turmoil to support a sleight of hand about American safety. It’s like gradually mixing poison in with the mashed potatoes so you don’t notice unless you are paying attention.
Banning muslims from the seven countries that have never killed an American on US soil in a terrorist attack cannot possibly make us safer. We would protect our citizens better if we banned guns or cigarettes, but that won’t win you votes. Here are the deaths due to terrorists from the seven banned countries and from Saudi Arabia (screenshot from CATO Institute) since 1975:
Yes, 78% of Americans murdered by terrorists on American soil were killed by Saudi citizens. Banning people from countries that haven’t attacked on our soil to protect us on our own soil literally makes no sense. No meaning to be trite, but no one has probably died from wearing socks. Should we ban those too? The only logical conclusions are lack of research, the agenda has nothing to do with reducing terrorism, or it’s all about money and oil. Or all three.
So we have an Executive Order that the facts suggest cannot make us any safer and conveniently creates scapegoats. Just today Sean Spicer somehow twisted the the murders of Muslim men in a Quebec mosque, committed by a white Canadian, to this conclusion, “It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant. And why the president is taking steps to be proactive, not reactive.” This is so Orwellian I am speechless. How does vetting immigrants make them safer from attacks by white men radicalized by your own words and policies?
The Executive Order is not a small price. It tears families apart needlessly. It prevents refugees living in despair from starting a new life. It falsely targets groups as being potential terrorists. It offers a smokescreen of security to cover up a test of muscle strength. It is a way to see how many lies Americans will swallow.
What worries me even more is this young, American-born doctor was afraid to go public with her name to tell her story. I could tell her story, but anonymously. And that, my friend, should frighten you most of all as well.
Winston: Does the Brotherhood exist?
O’Brien: That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.
-1984, George Orwell