Opinion: Trump executive orders require pushback from public

Bobbie Szabo

Bobbie Szabo

My grandfather was an immigrant from Hungary. He sought escape from the effects of the rise of fascism in his home country before World War II, and – in order to become a citizen of the United States – he joined the U.S. army. My father, who was born with dual citizenship in Germany, moved to the U.S. at age 13 to pursue the American Dream.

We have all descended from immigrants and from refugees (minus direct descendants of the Native Americans who first inhabited this land). America is a nation of people who have sought respite, yearned for a better future and aspired for the diversity and inclusion synonymous with our very country’s name.

The very symbol of the U.S., the Statue of Liberty, is home to a plaque which states: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Despite this, citizens of the U.S. have feared and discriminated against every major wave of immigrants throughout our nation’s history: the German and Irish immigration of the 1830s, Chinese immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish refugees during WWII, Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, Cubans and Haitians in the 1980s and 1990s, and now, refugees from Syria and surrounding countries.

President Trump recently unleashed chaos in our country with an executive order indefinitely banning refugees from Syria, barring all refugees regardless of country of origin for 120 days and blocked citizens of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the country for 90 days.

Protests have erupted around the country against Trump’s actions, many of them in airports in which people are currently detained. The executive order is widely deemed unconstitutional, illegal and inherently un-American.

However, given our history with xenophobia, this irrational hatred is not new. But just because it is not new, does not mean we can allow it to be normal.

Our country’s hatred for people we perceive to be “others” has had disastrous consequences for thousands of people. An entire ship of Jewish people was denied refuge in the United States during WWII, and over one-fourth of the passengers on the ship were killed in the Holocaust upon their return to Europe.

That blood is on our hands.

We cannot go back in history and stop that, but we can stop what is happening in our world now.

We must refuse to let ourselves hate because of fear. We must fight back against a government that refuses to acknowledge what we are telling it. We cannot sit by and allow our country to deny its most basic principles for any longer.

Call your senators and representatives. Sign petitions. Attend protests. Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Put an end to this ridiculous endeavor.

It is time we recognized the commonality amongst all human beings: We all deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When our country is denying citizens of other countries their rights to do so, we must stand up to our own hypocrisy.

Bobbie Szabo is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].