It has been considered a sign of a healthy democracy when politicians who get elected follow through with their campaign promises. But President Donald Trump’s sweeping ban on travel to the United States by entire populations based on region of origin has been a bitter message to many that “Land of the Free” is a brand, not an essential or necessary characteristic. Ashley DeJean and Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn, writing for Mother Jones a year after President Trump’s Executive Order 13769, reported how the ban complicates the lives of many people in the US.
“Though courts have struck down several iterations of the travel ban, one version remains in effect due to a temporary order from the Supreme Court in December. The ban is indefinite, and applies to Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, Chad, and government officials in Venezuela and their families.”
Mother Jones asked people to share their stories about how they were affected by the travel ban and heard from nearly a hundred people. “Dozens wrote about the difficulty of being separated from their spouses or fiancées; some delayed or canceled weddings because family members were unable to join them. Others described the pain of not being able to leave the country to visit a sick or dying parent. Many wrote about waiting for months on a visa application, only for their family members to get denied.”
DeJean and Vongkiatkanorn’s article includes interviews with international graduate students afraid to visit their families, and Americans whose loved ones are stuck in war zones. For example, Amar Homran, a US citizen whose wife was stuck in Yemen, feared for her safety because of the country’s ongoing war and deadly airstrikes. “‘I got to go there, pick her up, get the hell out of there,’ Homran remembers thinking to himself. He left California in December 2016, expecting to get his wife, a Yemeni national, to the US in a matter of months. But the couple has yet to hear back about their visa application and has been stuck in Djibouti since September 2017.”
In related coverage, the Nation’s Michelle Chen described how a report on crime and terrorism by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security presented “professionally cherry-picked data to bolster the perception that the country is under siege from hordes of foreign criminals.”
As Chen wrote, “The Justice Department misleadingly portrays the majority of terrorism convictions as an outcome of migration, stating that of the 549 individuals who were convicted on charges of international terrorism since September 11, 2001, 73 percent were foreign-born (including, misleadingly, even extradited suspects). But this statistic gives little background about individuals’ immigration status, nor does it contextualize the data with statistics on the overall incidence of terrorism, including systematic violence perpetrated by the rapidly mushrooming white-supremacist and neo-fascist movements that Trump has alternately praised as ‘good people’ and ignored over the past year.”
Corporate media coverage asserts that President Trump’s goal is to impose a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, but these reports tend to accept at face value the administration’s justification for its policies. For example, a brief December 2017 article from US News & World Report simply summarized a State Department press release as the basic frame of it coverage. More generally, the corporate media have ignored or marginalized stories about the separation of families and the dangers faced being by family members trapped in repressive or war-torn countries due to the travel ban.
Ashley DeJean and Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn, “I Feel Like a Prisoner in the Most-Free Country in the World,” Mother Jones, March 7, 2018, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/03/we-asked-how-the-travel-ban-changed-peoples-lives-heres-what-they-told-us/#.
Michelle Chen, “The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Obsession With Crimes Committed by Immigrants,” The Nation, January 26, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/the-trump-administrations-dangerous-obsession-with-crimes-committed-by-immigrants/.
Pema Levy, “Supreme Court Allows Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect,” Mother Jones, December 7, 2017, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/12/supreme-court-allows-trump-travel-ban-to-take-effect/.
Pema Levy, “Two Federal Judges Block Trump’s Travel Ban,” Mother Jones, October 17, 2017, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/federal-judge-blocks-trumps-third-travel-ban-update/.
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