They say it’s not a Muslim ban. They say it’s a safety concern. They say this is all a preventive measure.
But while this executive order may help prevent an attack, it is also preventing my family from coming to the United States.
When I was young, I always wondered why my family in Hong Kong never came to visit us. I figured it was a long flight to take and that logistically, it just didn’t make sense.
When I got a bit older, I asked my mom why her side of the family never came to visit. She told me, “They do not want to come. They hate Americans.”
I didn’t understand what that meant. I was an American. I am an American. And that is always something I have taken a lot of pride in. That is, at least, until recently.
In 2015, my cousin made the poorly timed decision to go to Europe. Around the time of the Paris attacks, he got caught in the wrong place, with a last name tied to the Islamic faith.
He was stopped in London and badgered with hours of questioning. He was unemployed at the time, and that apparently made him a person of suspicion. After hours of exhaustive questioning, they eventually let him go. Suffice to say, this did not make him want to travel again.
When talking to my uncle, he spoke — reluctantly — about his issues with U.S. travel. With his name, Mohammed Khan, he is a man that cannot avoid a “random” search. Though he was angry when his son got stopped in London, he was not surprised and said that is the norm when traveling to the United States.
It is important to remember that these conversations all took place before this new travel ban. Hours of questioning to individuals with Islamic-sounding names has been the model since 9/11. This isn’t new.
Since the attacks in 2001, my family has not even attempted to travel to the United States. From stories they have heard to the knowledge of what will likely transpire if they try to get here, it is too much for them to even think about coming.
If it was so hard for them to get to the United States under Obama’s leadership, I am terrified to think of what they would have to go through in order to visit now, under our new president.
With extreme measures being put in place to keep certain individuals out of the country, I fear my family will simply give up on traveling here.
As someone who was at the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off, and experienced that firsthand, I understand the need for national security measures to be taken.
But the fact that these extremes have made it so hard to travel that my family refuses to come see us?
That breaks my heart.
I hope, more than anything, that one day the fear of what could happen will dissipate, and that the extremes will become less so, but that is becoming less and less realistic.