On Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order that indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from the United States and severely affects immigrants and travelers coming to us from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The executive order had an immediate impact on hundreds of individuals, including interpreters for U.S. troops in Iraq, scientists and students working in our educational system, and refugee families that had gone through years of process to obtain a visa.
But the order did more than just alter these people’s lives; it was also an affront to the values that Americans hold most dear.
Thanks to quick action by lawyers and nonprofits across the nation, on Saturday night, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly ordered that those detained should not be returned to their countries of origin. Further clarifications regarding the status of green card holders were eventually made.
This is a president intent on inciting fear of others and I, for one, will not tolerate it.
I am the daughter of a Nicaraguan immigrant on my mother’s side, and the granddaughter of Navy veterans on my father’s side. I joined the Navy three months before Sept. 11 and deployed to the Persian Gulf three times in five years.
We are a far from perfect nation, but I proudly served my country because I believed and continue to believe that the American dream is alive — precisely because people like my mother, who moved here when she was 8 years old, are welcomed into the fabric of our diverse society.
This pluralism lies at the heart of what really makes America great. We are a stronger nation because of our diversity of thoughts and beliefs. We have tremendous challenges to face — from climate change to cyber threats — and we need all hands on deck if we’re going to be successful in the battles to come, no matter what form they may take. Pluralism is one of America’s great strategic assets; immigrants are responsible for a large part of California’s gross domestic product, and we’re the sixth largest economy in the world, according to Politifact.
Moreover, the idea that immigrants or refugees are dangerous is simply absurd. The U.S. already has a rigorous vetting process for refugees that can take up to two years and includes interviews, background checks, health screenings and biometric scans. It is overseen by multiple agencies including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. It is exhaustive and comprehensive which is why, since 1975, there have been zero terrorism deaths caused by immigrants from the seven countries in the executive order.
Set aside the fact that those countries seem to have been either arbitrarily chosen or intentionally selected to avoid affecting Trump’s business dealings, there simply does not exist a list of countries that we can consider “safe” or “not safe.” Categorizing them as such only serves to divide us. Moreover, it tells the world that we can be divided easily and without justification. It also tells would-be terrorists that the West has been warring with Islam all along.
We are better than that. We are a nation of ideals, of immigrants, of opportunity and of hope. My family’s story is one of utmost patriotism, based on the idea that in America, everyone has a chance to succeed — immigrant or not. The president’s recent actions dangerously threaten those beliefs and values, which are American values.
ANDREA MARR is a U.S. Navy veteran, resident of Costa Mesa and a member of the Truman National Security Project.