Last week, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold President Trump’s travel ban from seven countries including North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Venezuela. While these are not all Muslim majority countries, the rhetoric used by Trump, including his call for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” in conjunction with the original language of the travel ban shows that this is a “Muslim ban” masquerading as a travel ban.
The original version of this ban did not include North Korea and Venezuela and included a clause to admit refugees facing religious persecution only if “the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” And while this ruling can make my fellow Muslim Americans feel uncomfortable, I believe that now more than ever, we must be confident to be Americans.
I am a second-generation Muslim American and a part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the oldest Muslim organization in the United States.
My grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in search of the American dream, which I wholeheartedly believe they attained. As PhDs in physics teaching at Virginia Tech, they both retired in rural Virginia and spent a good part of their lives there raising cows and horses. To me, they were as American as it gets. When my grandparents, and many other Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan faced religious persecution, America was their beacon of hope and chance for a better life.
Their American dream was genuine and shaped largely by the people who were their neighbors, colleagues, students and friends. When I reflect on the recent decision by the Supreme Court to uphold Trump’s policy, I can’t help but realizing that it was not policy that shaped my grandparents experience as Americans, but it was Americans themselves who made their lives fulfilled.
I believe that as Americans, we must be an example for the rest of the world. We must act with justice for the good of all Americans and future Americans. Immigration is the engine that has brought us to where we are today and continues to lead us as a nation.
While I believe that security concerns can be valid and proper vetting is needed to ensure our country remains safe, I know we can act on these concerns with more integrity and justice. Our national security policies should be implemented with great care and we should not utilize policies like this as a way to institutionalize bias and bigotry.
Most importantly, we should draw closer together as Americans to actively fight institutionalized and blatant Islamophobia by exhibiting true American values and by exercising our right to vote and be heard in November.
Deeana Ijaz is from Los Altos Hills and is currently pursuing her PhD in education from Columbia University. Opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].