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The Statue of Liberty doesn't like the Muslim ban.

The fact that President Donald Trump’s executive order effectively hurts Muslims abroad and in America is a sign that it is, indeed, a Muslim ban.

The recent ban of refugees and other types of immigrants to the United States through President Donald Trump’s executive order has alarmed large swathes of the population. The instant the executive order was announced, panic reigned in our streets and our airports. Protests and demonstrations moved swiftly across the nation in a manner that heartened many, but also worried others. Where is our nation headed in these troubling times?

The most interesting aspect of the immigration ban debate, for me, has been the fact that millions of Americans — conservatives, Republicans, Trump supporters? — consider it a positive development. They are so busy applauding an alleged safety measure that they forget the important reasons why a blanket ban on refugees and other immigrants is not only hateful, but also useless:

1. Our nation was built on immigration.

As an immigrant, I’m aghast that this could be the same country that welcomed me and my family when I needed a place to stay. As the descendants of immigrants, my fellow Americans should also feel the same way. When Europeans needed a safe haven from the harsh religious and political policies of their kings, the New World saved them. Literally. When Jews needed escape from Hitler, they headed for North America. Now it is Muslims who are fleeing the harsh policies of their dictators, and they need our help.

2. We are not doing enough for refugees as it is.

We are taking far fewer (hundreds of thousands fewer, in some cases) refugees than many other countries, including Turkey and Jordan. If we do indeed want to keep our title as leaders of the free world, then we must do our part in leading refugee rehabilitation efforts — not lag so far behind that we forget our values.

A recent survey shows that a large number of Republicans think we are taking in too many refugees. Too many. Here’s what’s actually happening, and which countries can genuinely argue that they are taking in too many, especially since they don’t enjoy the resources that the U.S. does:

More than 4 million refugees from Syria (95 percent) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

  • Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria, which amounts to around one in five people in the country.
  • Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10 percent of the population.
  • Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide.
  • Iraq, where 3 million people have been internally displaced in the last 18 months, hosts 249,463 refugees from Syria.
  • Egypt hosts 132,375 refugees from Syria.

(Source: Amnesty International)

3. Muslims have rightly argued that the executive order stinks like a Muslim ban.

Many refuse this argument. Despite the intention, the fact that it effectively hurts Muslims abroad and in America is a sign that it is, indeed, a Muslim ban. Many also argue that it doesn’t hurt those who are in this country legally. It does. Think of Muslim Americans who have gone outside the country to visit relatives or take a well-deserved vacation, unable to come back to their own homes. Think of immigrants who have already been granted visas and are ready to enter the U.S., having sold all of their belongings. Think of all those who undergo discrimination and harassment at the borders and entry points by customs and airport officials. They are all hurt by this ban, regardless of intention.

4. A ban on refugees makes us less safe.

Terrorists use it as a recruitment tool, telling desperate people in their countries that America hates them. After going through everything — for instance, the Iraqi translator who helped U.S. military for ten years and handcuffed for hours at the airport — will they love us or hate us? It’s a very simple equation: 1+1 = 2 or, as our elders used to say, sow what you reap. The IB Times explains why ISIS can never be defeated in this way:

Global co-operation and partnership between the Islamic world and the West are vital to defeating the Islamic State group (Isis) and its ideological affiliates, to finding a lasting resolution to the civil war in Syria and to addressing the global refugee crisis.

Trump’s ban, which came just one week into his administration, does nothing to strengthen that much-needed cooperation at a time when the world requires it most.

5. A ban on immigration has repercussions for our economy as well.

Muslims come into our country as doctors, engineers, computer programmers, teachers and so much more. They spend their time and effort making this country great, contributing to their local communities. How will we suffer without their presence? I wrote about the contributions of Muslims here for those who are unaware.

So if you think that protests and marches aren’t the way to go, then try something else. Write your congressmen and women. Attend public meetings, share articles like these on social media. Bottom line: don’t be scared of refugees and immigrants, because we all share those histories. Don’t ban Muslims. Instead, invite Muslims to be your friends and neighbors. America is big enough for all of us.


Saadia is an interfaith activist, cultural sensitivity trainer, and author of the book Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan.

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