Muslims, Immigrants Concerned with President Trump’s Revised “Travel Ban”


The Trump Administration promised a revised travel ban, and Monday his administration delivered on that promise with an executive order. The previous travel ban sparked nationwide protests, and ultimately was blocked by a federal court.  The new executive order shows major changes, but Muslims and immigrants from the banned countries tell com they are still concerned about this new order.

The new executive order no longer bans Iraqi citizens from entering the U.S., however it still bars nationals from the other six countries banned on the previous order: Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Citizens of these countries will be banned from applying for visas for 90 days. The directive also clarified a confusion from the previous order, stating that green card holders and those with current legal visas are not banned by this order.

“I was just like, here we go again, we’ve got another outrageous ban against six Muslim-majority countries,” said Mousab Diab,  a Texas Tech Medical School student and a U.S. citizen from Sudan. “Again, citizens that have nothing to do whatsoever with any terrorist activities or anything like that [are impacted] and I just thought this isn’t who we are as a country.”

“A lot of my cousins they dream of coming to America, they are engineers they are doctors, they are attracted to America by the opportunities we have here,” Diab continued. “So they’ve been applying to come to America for a couple of years now, and it hasn’t happened and obviously with this ban I don’t think its going to happen.”

“It’s already really hard to get into the U.S., so putting this ban in is not going to change anything, it just gives people the idea that these six countries are the dangerous countries,” said Sara Alhaj, a Texas Tech undergraduate student who is a dual citizen in the U.S. and Syria. 

But the Trump administration said it is concerned that terrorists could be planning to make their way to the U.S. through the refugee program.

“While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country. To our allies and partners around the world please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Monday of the new order. 

The  order puts a 120 day hold on all refugees from entering the U.S. as opposed to the previous order which indefinitely barred Syrian refugees.

“More than 300 people, according to the FBI, that came here as refugees are under an FBI investigation today for potential terrorism-related activities,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday.

This order will replace the previous order starting March 16.

John Kelly, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, stating on CNN Monday that additional countries could be added to the ban upon further review. Kelly also asserted, “it’s not a Muslim ban.” 

But some Muslims feel that these travel bans have prompted hatred and policies stacked against them. 

“It certainly feels like a Muslim ban, especially coming from Trump you’ll remember during the campaign he said Islam hates us and that was was really confusing,” said Texas Tech student Mousab Diab, who is also a Muslim. 

Samer Altabaa, the Imam of the Islamic Center of the South Plains said he read the revised executive order and still has serious doubts about it.

“We want our country to be safe and secure, but this is not going to make it safe and secure,” he said. “These people, they are coming to have a better life, a safe life for them and their families, so I see that executive order as targeting those innocent people. And we would like to see some orders that target the terrorists and the violent and the evil people.”

Altabaa is Syrian, but has not traveled back to Syria since 2009 because of the war. He noted that since the first travel ban went into effect, his mosque in Lubbock has seen an increase in hateful calls and comments.

“Receiving some hateful words, statements, this is something after the new administration, is being increased actually,” Altabaa explained. “Someone called the mosque saying, ‘Go back home’ or somebody else saying, ‘You are terrorists’ or whatever, and unfortunately this has increased because they thought they’re covered by the new administration.”

Altabaa said a Muslim woman in Lubbock recounted something that happened to her:

“She was walking the mall  and somebody told her, ‘Go back home, this doesn’t belong to you,'” Altabaa said. “She’s American! She was born here she lives here.” He added that he knows families in Lubbock who have been impacted and separated by these orders.

Sara Alhaj said she has family in Syria who are trying to enter the U.S. as well. She explained that her brother who is under temporary protection status because of the Syrian war doesn’t know what will happen with his status in the U.S. or his job.

 While John Kelly explained that the order will allow for a “rigorous review of our immigration vetting programs,” Alhaj believes that rigorous vetting is already in place. 

“It’s very extreme vetting, to get into the U.S.,  I know that because of my family, because of other people, people who waited for  two or three years to get in,” Alhaj said. “I don’t know what they’re trying to do, make it five years to be accepted?”

Alhaj will graduate this spring and hopes that some of her Syrian family members would be able to attend her graduation.

Alhaj said that the new executive order and the press conference leading up to it, were short on data or statistics to show why these measures were needed. She said she wants to see more evidence from the administration. 

“It’s like the same as people who came from Vietnam or Serbia or other wars that were able to come to the U.S. after the war in their countries because they couldn’t live there, so I don’t know why this target on these six countries that are in need,” she said.

Alhaj said she is waiting to see how the judicial branch responds to this order. 

Texas Tech University

According to Texas Tech University confirmed Monday that they do not have any students or faculty currently caught in travel status limbo due to these executive orders.

They report having 102 students from Iran, 9 from Libya, 8 from Yemen, 4 from Syria, 2 from Somalia, and 2 from Sudan.

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