On Friday, Jan. 27, in an attempt to prevent an influx of immigrants from entering the United States from war-stricken Middle Eastern countries and to secure the U.S. border, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, barring all individuals that hold passports from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Over the past few weeks, the news has outraged most and pleased some students at UCLA, as well as civilians throughout the country. Although the ban was legally contested by its critics, it has already made quite an impact on people from all walks of life, both in the U.S. and abroad.
The ban not only applied to immigrants, students, and travelers from the seven Muslim-majority countries listed but also some permanent legal residents of the U.S.—those who hold American green cards. Manny Dahari, a Jewish 23-year-old Marketing and Political Science major at Yeshiva University, who fled Yemen because of religious persecution, falls under this category of green card holders. Dahari has lived in the U.S. for almost 11 years and is anticipating his receipt of citizenship in a few months.
President Trump’s 90-day ban was signed into effect when Dahari was abroad in Israel, visiting his recently liberated family from Yemen. When he heard about the ban, Dahari took to Facebook, exclaiming that “In a few hours I will try to board a plane from Israel to #JFK as a Yemeni citizen, a refugee, and a green-card holder. The Trump executive order blocks any non-U.S. citizens (visa & green-card holders) from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States for at least 90 days as well as indefinitely suspending admission of Syrian refugees. Some have been detained at JFK and some were sent back to their countries…” Dahari was detained and questioned at John F. Kennedy International Airport for 3.5 hours but was ultimately released with the help of Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and a team of lawyers who were waiting for his arrival in the U.S. Ha’am News reached out to Dahari for an interview after his safe return home.
Like many other immigrants to the U.S., Dahari chose to come to the U.S. because he believes that there are greater opportunities here for a person who works hard. However, he does acknowledge that we have a “broken immigration system that needs to be fixed.” Although he believes that something must be done to solve the issue of immigration, he feels that the current all-encompassing approach is not effective. Dahari explains that President Trump is “surrounded by very intelligent people who can implement policies on U.S. immigration without targeting a specific religion or race and without losing American values.” He credits the population of immigrants and the incredible diversity of cultures as the two aspects that set America apart from other nations.
When I asked Dahari whether or not he appreciates the stricter border control implemented by the current administration, in light of terrorist attacks throughout Europe and the U.S., he responded, “Absolutely. I am all for security. I think we need to take extra measures to prevent terrorist attacks.” However, he also feels that vetting needs to “apply to everyone, regardless of nationality.”
It seems that President Trump and Dahari both agree that there is a need for heightened security. On Feb. 1, on his Twitter account, President Trump exclaimed that the ban “is about keeping bad people out of country!” The tweet has received over 230,000 likes thus far. While Dahari and President Trump both agree that our country is facing a problem in terms of immigration and refugees, the point of contention seems to lie in the methodology and implementation of specific policies to address the issues at hand.