The baby and I went over to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee yesterday and volunteered for a few hours. Relatives and friends of travelers were calling in scared, unsure of whether their relatives would be allowed entry into the U.S., unsure of what to do next. The calls were steady, the themes were the same: families being torn apart, statuses being revoked, travelers who have lived in the U.S. for years suddenly becoming refugees in transit, everyone is scared. The situation is far worse than people realize.
The ACLU sued the federal government yesterday, requesting “a nationwide temporary injunction that [would] block the deportation of all people stranded in U.S. airports under President Trump’s new Muslim ban.” The judge granted the stay, allowing people under detainment as of last night to be released. However, this did not help the people stranded across the world. (To be clear, that’s not a slight on the ACLU – that’s just a fact of how incredibly challenging this entire situation is to navigate and tackle.)
This morning, the Department of Homeland Security issued a response to the litigation, basically stating sorry not sorry, the Executive Order stands. This isn’t exactly a surprise. But let’s break this paragraph apart:
Approximately 80 million international travelers enter the United States every year. Yesterday, less than one percent of the more than 325,000 international air travelers who arrive every day were inconvenienced while enhanced security measures were implemented. These individuals went through enhanced security screenings and are being processed for entry to the United States, consistent with our immigration laws and judicial orders.
First of all, um, no. Calling what people are going through – visas and green cards nullified, detainment, inability to board flights, being stranded in airports across the world – an inconvenience is grossly condescending and reckless. Forgetting your headphones before traveling is an inconvenience. What people are currently experiencing is a injustice.
Second, calling detainment and being turned away at the border “enhanced security screenings” is a straight up lie. When I was pregnant and couldn’t go through the X-ray machine at the the airport, the TSA agents would feel me up to make sure I wasn’t carrying anything more than a fetus. When my husband brought back a kilo of basterma from Turkey and acknowledged it on his customs form, Customs and Border Patrol searched his bag and confiscated the delicious cured meat. Those are examples of enhanced screenings. Detainment/removal because of your country of origin + religion and nothing else is NOT an enhanced security screening.
So now what?
ACTION OF THE DAY: Call your Senators and ask them to call on the Department of Homeland Security to stop enforcing the Executive Order. Wondering if you should call if you have a Democratic Senator? Guess what: only 11 Democratic Senators voted not to confirm Gen. John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. The other 37 voted to confirm. Call, call, call.
UPDATE, JANUARY 29, 3:30 PM – From The Hill:
“If we get a few more Republicans, I think we might be able to pass legislation to overturn it,” Schumer said at a press conference in New York. “It will be up to getting more Republicans.”
Here’s a script: “Hi, I’m [name] from [town]. I want to make sure that Senator [name] plans to support legislation overturning the Executive Order banning Muslims from entering the U.S., including legal permanent residents and those with standing visas. Is the Senator planning to support such legislation?”
Call, call, call – whether your Senators are Democrats or Republicans. Hold their feet to the fire and rise up!
Looking for more ways to resist? Check out yesterday’s post.