Why Trump's Immigration Ban Affects Us All
They’re banned. They’re not banned. Wait, they’re banned. Hold that–there’s a hold on the ban. Whew. I finally have time to contemplate, if not actually knit a pussy hat. Wait, is the ban back? Yes. No. The hold on the ban is upheld. Except, he just made a new order (which you can get briefed on above). So then it all starts over again.
Confused yet? Yeah, me too, and I’ve been glued to the news about it like it’s the new season of Game of Thrones. (Spoiler: it’s even more complicated than untangling Lannister alliances).
So what’s up with the ban? And why should you care, when there are so many, many other things to care about these days? Here’s my five-minute pitch for giving a damn about this particular one. Feel free to finally knit that hat while you’re reading.
Maybe it’s already obvious to you, but if not, here’s what I think: At the end of the day, whether or not we open our doors to people who are fleeing persecution, to whom we have no real obligation—they’re not family, they’re not Americans; they’re complete strangers—is the question that determines our country’s moral soul.
Let’s bring it home, literally. Imagine you get a knock on your front door in the middle of the night. You open the door a crack and there’s a stranger standing there, shivering, saying, please, you’ve got to help me. I can’t go home because murderers have broken in to my apartment, and I just barely made it out alive. I can’t stay out here on the street because, well, it’s the street and it’s 20 degrees out and I didn’t have time to grab my shoes.
Now you have a decision to make. On the one hand, you’ve never seen this person before. Your mother’s voice is screaming in your head: You don’t know if they’re telling the truth or if they just want in your home to attack and murder you! On the other hand, FOR GOD’S SAKE, if it were you there knocking, wouldn’t you want someone to take the risk and let you in?
I get it; it’s not an easy decision. Thankfully, no one is asking you to let a stranger into your home, no questions asked. Questions are asked. Two to three years’ worth of questions, in the case of refugees (I should know, I used to do some of the questioning). And not everyone is approved for entry. But for the ones who are (who have been through the equivalent of making that stranger wait on your front stoop for a few hours while you run her name through police databases, do a medical exam, call her relatives to confirm her story, and take her fingerprints) it seems like the only human thing to do is say, of course you can come in. Here’s a blanket. Let me make you some tea.
So stay tuned. Care. Volunteer at a resettlement agency. Speak out. Not just because it may be us standing there on the stoop one day, but because we can’t ever forget that helping strangers is the fundamental test of our humanity.
Natalie C. Anderson is an American writer and international development professional living in Geneva, Switzerland. She has spent the last decade working with nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations on refugee relief and development, mainly in Africa. She just published her debut novel, City of Saints & Thieves (our February Clover Book Club pick!).
By Natalie C. Anderson