THE latest on US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban at the time of writing is that his administration has decided not to pursue an appeal on the suspension of the ban at the Supreme Court. According to Trump, they are now considering issuing a new executive order.
This was preluded by the Department of Justice making an appeal against a restraining order that was filed by federal court Judge James L. Robart.
The constitutional debacle that is happening in the United States is something that has not happened before in modern history.
I have had the opportunity to witness all this happening while being in the US (I arrived on the same day the executive order was signed by Trump). And in my observation, I have to say that things are pretty unsettled.
First of all, I would have to make it clear that I only spent the past two weeks in California, which was a dominantly Blue state (a Democrat win) during the last presidential election. The state has also expressed a desire to become a sanctuary state for immigrants, in defiance of the ban.
When I first arrived, I was greeted by protestors and lawyers at the airport because the order had just been signed and the US Customs and Border Protection were starting to enforce the rule. Luckily Malaysia was not in the seven listed countries in the ban.
I really wanted to understand things better, especially from the point of view of the Muslim community here, and as soon as the opportunity arose, I attended Friday prayers at a local mosque so that I could listen to the sermon.
It was interesting to hear that the gist of the sermon after the signing of the order was to reassure the community that everything will be okay. The ‘khatib’ who delivered the sermon ensured the congregation that many Americans who were not Muslims were supporting them.
And as if to solidify the sermon (although totally coincidental), a group of students from the nearby University of Southern California (UCS) came and sat in the mosque during the prayers to show a stand of solidarity with the Muslim community.
It is interesting and also inspiring to see that many people were banding together for a common belief. And these people consisted of those from different religions, ethnicities and backgrounds. The Muslim community also seem to realise that they need to work with these groups.
In the days following, more developments unfolded. As I spent a lot of time on the UCS campus (attending a media workshop), I managed to witness and attend a student protest against the immigration ban.
It was amusing to see that there were a few Trump supporters who came just so that they could engage with the protestors and express their opinions. They said that they were in support of the ban because it meant better protection from terrorists coming from these countries.
What made it in even more interesting is the fact that all of these Trump supporters who came to engage with the protestors were Iranian-Americans whose parents are immigrants. Iran is one of the seven countries that is listed in the ban.
One person even yelled out that this kind of extreme vetting is just the kind of security that is needed to ensure that no more terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015 would happen again in the US.
He ended it by saying “Trump will make America great and he’s going to make me rich!” And promptly walked off from the protest area in full dramatic fashion.
I’m sure he did not hear it when one of the protestors replied to his trolling by stating that none of the attacks that happened involved perpetrators who were from the seven countries listed in the ban – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.
At the end of the second week after the executive order was signed, I went along to the mosque again for Friday prayers and to listen to the sermon. I wanted to see what approach the ‘khatib’ would
take this time.
It seemed that the tone this time was more directed at taking action and ownership of their rights and their position in the country. The ‘khatib’ said that the US isn’t a perfect country and that if the administration makes mistakes, it shouldn’t be an indictment of the country as a whole.
He wanted the congregation to not feel hopeless and to understand that there must be a very important reason why they are the ones who are currently in the US. It was their responsibility, the American Muslims, now to make sure that the US will end up fine.
I believe the entire Muslim world needs to take a page out of what is happening in the US. Although the ones who are directly affected by the immigration ban are predominantly Muslims, every layer of society from all creed and colour are rallying together because they just see it as a humanity issue.
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