Not Who We Are

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Emma Lazarus

On Mondays, I usually write about something related to travel, my favorite subject. Right now that seems like rather a quaint idea, in light of the thousands of people who were caught up in the executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries in the middle east. I had hoped that this blog could remain free of politics, and going forward I hope I don’t feel the need to write about things like this again. But I cannot stay silent.

The travel ban is still in place, and although federal judges have ordered a stay on the ban in several areas some with visas or green cards are still not being allowed in or being detained. Hundreds of lawyers have volunteered their time to assist the detainees, and other judges have ordered that lawyers have access to those with permanent resident status. Customs officials in some locations however have refused to obey the judges’ orders. Tens of thousands of citizens spontaneously gathered at airports all over the country to protest the ban, and protests are continuing.

Here are just a few examples of how the travel ban affected people trying to enter the United States, although its effects were more far-reaching and devastating than the few examples can provide:

  • A Syrian man, a permanent resident with a green card, was not allowed to re-enter the United States. He is the sole caregiver for his father, who remains in the U.S.
  • A 77-year old grandmother, from Iraq, who has not seen her family here for over four years, was locked up, detained upon her arrival at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport. and sent back to Iraq.
  • An Iranian woman, who has held a green card for the past five years, and had her citizenship interview scheduled in two weeks, was denied entry into the country.
  • Legal permanent residents, returning home after funerals, vacations and study abroad were stopped and questioned about their religion, their views of Donald Trump and denied entry.
  • Interpreters who risked their lives to serve with the U.S. Army in Iraq, and who were promised safe travel to the U.S. were stranded at airports in Iraq; one was held in handcuffs for over 17 hours. Others’ family members were denied entry to reunite with their husbands and fathers.
  • Two of the persons held for hours at O’Hare airport were an 18-month old and a newborn. Both are U.S. citizens.

Does the ban make us safer? Not one of the 9/11 hijackers came from any of the countries that were banned, nor did the Orlando shooter or the San Bernadino shooters. No American has ever been killed by anyone from any of the banned countries. I sure don’t feel any safer because of the ban. In fact, it makes me feel a whole lot less safe than I ever have.

The ban is a disgrace. It is shameful. It is hateful and cruel. It is illegal. It is evil.

I’m still reeling from this action. I did not serve, nor my husband, nor our parents and ancestors to see this happen in our country. I will close with a quote from Dan Rather, written on Saturday:

I still remain optimistic that the vast majority of American people will recoil and speak out at this unwise policy. But whether we like it or not, as the detentions and impediments already springing up make all too real, this is the stated de facto policy of the United States today. Every day that it goes on, every day the chaos, confusion and heartbreak deepens, America loses more pieces of its soul and standing in the world.

33 thoughts on “Not Who We Are

  1. I agree with everything you say here. And I appreciate your speaking up. Indeed, this is not who we are.


  2. And I agree in part with what he is doing. While not perfect he is moving things in the right direction.


    1. Well, as things are, as you say, “moving in the right direction,” where do you see this going? Who’s next? And where does it stop? What’s about people already in this country, green card holders and such, from the banned countries? What do we do with them? Deport them all (and how much will that cost?)? Internment camps? What if they’re already citizens?

      People who do this won’t stop with one group.

      The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.: Leviticus 19:34

      For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in: Matthew 25:35


  3. Mary G: I’m not posting your comment to save you some embarrassment. Obama was not President on 9/11/2001. He wasn’t even a U.S. Senator.

    You are free to unsubscribe from my blog, although I’m not sure how – you’re not even a subscriber.


  4. Laura,
    Thank you for writing this post. We must continue to speak up for the values that truly make us already great. They are not reflected in these misguided immigration policies.

    Ann in New Mexico


    1. I think many have been “awakened” by what has happened in our country in less than two weeks. We must continue to speak up.

      Someone posted this the other day on Facebook: If you ever wondered what you would have done when Adolf Hitler took power in Germany or Francisco Franco in Spain or Augusto Pinochet in Chile, well now you know. You would do exactly what you are doing now. If that’s going into the streets, then great. If that’s complaining about protestors or whining about liberals or whining about the left, then that’s what you would have done in 1933, 1937, and 1973.


    1. Thank you. I had to stop reading Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here – it was too frightening. But, it is happening here, very quickly too.


  5. I had another response all typed up, but deleted it. Deep breaths. We will stand & fight together. I will protest, I will volunteer, I will donate. I will do kind things for others, I will extend a helping hand to ALL of my neighbors, I will judge less. I will be a better person. Because, going down into a spiral of anger & frustration is doing me no good, and it’s been ONE WEEK.


    1. We all need to stay awake, and do what we can. Your attitude is the one that’s going to change things.

      I think of you all every day.


  6. I was born and raised in Canada . I married my US husband, got a green card and eventually my US citizenship. I am retiring this year and yesterday decided to look up the requirements for moving back to Canada. What a surprise to find out that my Canadian citizenship counted for almost nothing. Here are the requirements:
    1. Be very fluent in reading, writing and understanding English or French. Aced that!
    2. Plan to work and hopefully have a job lined up. Failed that.
    3. Have no major medical issues. OK there but my husband would not pass that.
    4. Plan to invest heavily in the Canadian economy. Figures needed varied from 2.2 million to 7.8 million. Failed that.

    What it came down to is Canada does not want to allow in retired people who would use their medical system. They want healthy adults who are able to start up businesses or fill needed jobs. There is a shortage of nurses so I actually could probably get a job but I don’t want one.

    I have less chance of retiring in Canada than a Syrian refugee.


    1. Japan has no visa for my husband and I to join our son in Japan. We are too old. So yes, I too see others getting in easier, but like Canada, they want to protect their national health care, fill needed jobs, and so forth. I get it, but it doesn’t make it any easier.


    2. Hi Karen,

      I’m attaching a link to the government of Canada website that might help. If you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to return to Canada and live here. You’ll need to sponsor your husband but to do so, it appears that you only need to prove that you plan to live in Canada and that you have financial resources so that he will not need to collect social assistance. It seems that the process has been streamlined so it’s definitely worth looking into!

      Good luck!



  7. Completely agree with your post, Laura. Among those who want to restrict immigration, many don’t understand the difference between regular immigration requirements and those for refugees. But then, after those immigrants and refugees have become citizens, many of the same anti-immigration folks still don’t accept them as equal or real citizens, despite them having met all the criteria. If all the immigrants were deported back 3 generations, the country would empty out!


    1. Exactly! The United States is a nation of immigrants. I’m disgusted that many who favor the ban now were themselves treated this way before, as “not American” or worthy of citizenship.


  8. I agree with everything you said – we have lost sight of who we are as a country. But – PLEASE – everyone call your representative/Senator and tell them you disagree. It won’t do us any good if we don’t tell those that are in charge that it is wrong and we won’t stand for it. PLEASE CALL THEM!!!


  9. Karen are you sure you have not misinterpreted the Canadian requirements? Only reason I ask is we have a friend who grew up with dual Canadian-US citizenship who moved back to Canada a couple of years ago at the age of 50, has never worked there nor does she intend to as she was able to get her over 60 defacto US spouse a visa to reside in Canada and onto the Canadian healthcare system.


  10. Very well said. I keep wondering how this can be happening and who will stop it. I feel so helpless.


    1. I should note that I am going to do all I can to make my voice heard by my elected officials and work for change at the local level.


    2. We all need to stay alert now, all the time. We need to stay involved. Many things are being tried, all at the same time, which helps to sow confusion and chaos. We need to call our representatives, whether we voted for them or not, and hold them accountable.

      It is at the local level where changes will be made.


  11. Yup- the roll out was shocking.
    FYI- the woman who attempted suicide was from Chile and did not have documents to enter-the day before the restrictions came down.


    1. Thank you for the correction. I’m going to remove it from my post – I don’t post inaccurate information if I can help it.

      I am especially disturbed right now that some federal marshalls are not making the border patrol follow court orders. This is a breakdown of the rule of law.


  12. I echo the other posts of thank you.

    At work today I read a short post in a trade journal newsletter about Jeff Bezos and Amazon taking a stand against the travel ban. It was two quick paragraphs and was very factual. Typically there are very few comments on this trade newsletter’s posts…..Not today. I was appalled and shocked at the vitriolic comments including name calling and just plain hate. This is on a dry, work-related newsletter.

    We are all entitled to our own opinions, but if we can offer each other respectful acknowledgement of our differences, then we can unite as a country.

    I’ve decided that my charitable donations this year will be to the ACLU, an organization I have never donated to in the past. I fear for all charities not involved in civil rights will see a decrease in donations.

    I don’t have this expense factored into my 2017 budget, but financially supporting investigative journalists is an important part of keeping a healthy democracy.


    1. This election was the equivalent of turning over a large rock, with everything that’s been hidden now out in the open. I knew the bugs were there, but the number of them and the extent of their hatred has been a shock. Not just for me, but for many. I don’t know if we as a country will ever heal from this, and that makes me deeply, deeply sad. I am also sad for how quickly many of our freedoms are being trashed. I was born and raised in the U.S., and my family has been here for nearly 400 years and served our country since the Revolutionary War, and I no longer feel safe any more.

      We contributed to the ACLU as well. As for journalists, I think some are beginning to find their spines again. This will be an amazing time to be an investigative journalist. But sadly many have decided to become nothing more than court stenographers. All I ask for is the TRUTH.


      1. The “turning over of a rock” analogy is a great visual.

        My family was 34 years later to MA then yours 🙂 Scottish POW sold as indentured servant to Saugus Iron Works.

        I keep wondering: is this backlash from having an African-American President? Have we dumbed down schools for so long that people don’t have critical thinking skills to evaluate truth from spin from falsehood? Has the shrinking middle class created societal instability? Are we all so busy trying to keep our lives and finances together that we have so little energy to learn what is going on or just want the quick fix news bite? All of the above I think.


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