The Faces of Lost Freedom: America Turns Its Back on Immigrants

The sun emerges from the clouds as I hastily walk to catch the next bus that will take my mother and I to the market. Amidst the bustling city of Tehran, where over eight million reside, I listen to my mom’s sentiments despite the echoing clamor and noise heard from the city’s natives. On the bus, my mom leans over to me and tells me the troubles that Iranians will soon face; my future and my goals are at risk. She leans in closer and speaks the difficulties I will face when it comes time to apply to a university in the United States, because President Trump is continuing to isolate and persecute foreigners from Muslim majority countries, even for educational opportunities. As she continues to talk, her voice becomes weak and even, helpless, remembering the hardships that have faced the people of Iran.

During our bus ride, my head covering slips too far down my hairline, but I pay no attention to it, I’ll fix it when it catches the eye of an onlooker. The man next to me doesn’t hesitate to call out my minor error and chastises my mother and I for my “loose” morals. This minute incident, calls attention to the woman I strive to be. I see beyond the confines we’re restricted to abide to and I acknowledge that I’m a strong female who seeks to be in charge of my own destiny and choices, but Iran views it as a sign of disrespect.

At the age of 12, my only dream is to make it to America and explore every crevice it has to offer, become educated and learn to be an empowered woman. I yearn to surround myself in a place where no one person is the same and I seek to learn the differences that make America a melting pot. But why am I barred from the country that embraces all forms of humanity? Do I truly pose as a dangerous threat to their people? If President Trump’s 90-day immigration ban from seven Muslim majority countries had taken place during the ‘70s my life would have never flourished and I would forever remained oppressed, afraid to step outside the lines.

Trump’s immigration ban sent shock waves around the country and world when he signed an executive order on January 27th. The President’s order lifted a veil on my country, one that clearly illustrates the racist ideologies that permeate and plague our current society. Not only has this ban caused irreparable damage to those faced with grave injustices, it means that my parents would have never been able to leave Iran, would never have met in Los Angeles, and would certainly never have been able to offer a life full of freedom to their children.

A man such as Trump has no place in the White House, his unconstitutional actions are not only wrong and baseless but, will also have severe implications on our safety, growth, economy and future as a nation. Trump berates, bullies and chastises those who are different. As a young woman who grew up in liberal enclaves of the country, raised by two Iranian immigrants, my parents stressed the importance of education and progressiveness. Being born in Los Angeles and living throughout the West Coast and Middle East, I grew up with a world view that our differences are seen as beauty and should always be welcomed.

My mom came to this country as a 14-year-old by way of English boarding schools and had to assimilate to the all too differing Valley life in Los Angeles. My father decided to pursue studies at Columbia in New York and traveled to LA because his parents already owned a home there. The families of my parents were close friends since the Iranian diaspora in Southern California was a small, yet welcoming community—there my parents met, fell in love and started a life together. Once my parents had my sister and I, their entire existence was devoted to making sure we had the best of everything—mainly education and open-minded experiences that would enhance the way we perceived life and those of other ethnicities.

Through my parents’ hard work they granted me the gift of love and safety in a tumultuous world, while offering me opportunities I would have never received in Iran. My experiences taught me that, freedom is not something we should take for granted and that we must work toward passing that baton to future generations and individuals who come to our country for a better life.

Over 90,000 people were affected by Trump’s immigration ban—women, children and men who have enriched our communities were treated like criminals and terrorists that seek to destroy this country—these “facts” spewed by the Trump Administration paint a sinister and corrupt portrait of the people that migrate here. Without my parents coming to the US years ago, my family’s life would be at stake, with no future in sight.

As a young woman, my dreams to become a contributing member of society and my role as a technical recruiter at LinkedIn would cease to exist. My mother would be unable to help those in need by providing insurance and my father wouldn’t be able to save lives as a doctor. My friends would have never been exposed to the wonders of Persian food on Saturday nights when my mom invited them over and they wouldn’t have been able to learn about other cultures and traditions that were not their won.

Immigrants are the backbone of this nation and without them we wouldn’t have doctors, lawyers, the Golden Gate Bridge, Google and a majority of Fortune 500 companies that impact our world on a daily basis. Data from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a nonpartisan public policy research organization that focuses on immigration and related issues, has found that more than half of U.S. businesses valued at over $1 billion have been started by immigrants. Additionally, immigrants make up over 70% of management or product development teams at these companies.

The beauty and splendor of America is because of immigrants and to stop their entry—or deport them—into the country will weaken our standing. The immigrants Trump and his administration are choosing to isolate will be the fall of the country unless a swift move can be made. The individuals we persecute and punish will no longer look to the US as the great melting pot it once was and instead those outsiders will flock far and wide, which will surely lead to the US no longer being a leader in the world economy.

This ban is a hideous blemish on this country, one that we should deeply be horrified by. It has already been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge due to it directly attacking the fundamental constitutional value of equal protection and religious freedom. This ban was not only extended to immigrants that hold special visa status but to those who hold a green card, which allows foreign nationals to live and work permanently in the US. The Equal Protection Clause unambiguously prohibits “denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Although Trump’s administration has been quick to deem this order as nothing but a simple safety measure, Donald Trump sought out Rudy Giuliani’s legal expertise to make the “Muslim ban” reality, as was directly mentioned by Giuliani in a Fox News interview.

We will continue to see the effects of this ban well after it has already been discussed and debated on at great length. Individuals who wanted to come to America for education or work will not feel safe in doing so. Those with special visa status will be afraid to travel outside of the country whether to see family or for business. Young children who have been unfairly detained at airports will have a special trauma related to their uniqueness and the threads to our multicultural blanket will be seen untying at the seams.

We must continue to embrace one another even more fervently than before, continue to show up to rallies and protests showing our frustrations. This darkness has called forth our inner light, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and if we want to pass a free and just America to the next generation, we must fight for it. This is the call of our times and the world and history will be judging us on how we fight for what matters. We can’t wait for our leaders to change our future; that power is solely in our hands: we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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