(Editor’s note: On Monday, 6 March, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order banning immigration from six predominantly Muslim nations. The new order covers Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It does not include Iraq after Iraqi officials lobbied the administration.)
By BETH HOKE
Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the United States for a 90-day period. His hurried policy had a negative effect on the lives of refugees, legal immigrants, and even U.S. citizens.
A subsequent court decision overturned the ban, but Trump will be introducing a revised version of the ban this week, which he vows will meet all of the legal requirements while still preventing what he refers to as “bad dudes” from entering the country.
But, as it is worded, the current ban doesn’t apply only to those who might be “bad dudes.” It also affects immigrants from those seven countries who have applied for, and received, visas to enter the U.S. to visit family members who are ill or dying, those who need specialized medical care, and those seeking refuge from war-torn areas.
It excludes students, translators who risked their lives assisting our military, and those are coming to the country to share their artistic talents or scientific knowledge.
The implementation of this ban has had a domino effect on international relations, despite the fact that it has been overruled in its current iteration.
Shortly after the administration’s announcement of the ban, Iran stopped issuing visas to U.S. citizens, including a wrestling team scheduled to compete in the Freestyle World Cup in February. The Iranian government later relented and allowed the team to compete.
Just last week, the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel to Europe for U.S. citizens, citing the country’s unwillingness to honor a reciprocity agreement that allowed EU citizens to enter the United States for a 90-day period without a visa.
Although the U.S. government honors this agreement for most of the EU member states, it does not extend this courtesy to citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.
The European Parliament wants the agreement to be “all or nothing.” Either the U.S. agrees to allow citizens from every EU country to travel visa-free to the United States, or the same courtesy will not be extended to American citizens wishing to travel to Europe.
When the Iranian government announced that they would no longer allow U.S. citizens to travel to their country, the reaction of the majority of Americans on social media was “So what? Who wants to go to Iran, anyway?”
This narrow-minded viewpoint obscures the bigger picture. First Iran, now Europe. If Trump ever builds his infamous wall, will Mexico be next?
The ban has already had a negative affect on scientific progress, international business, and tourism.
Isolationism benefits no one.
As I sit here in Germany writing this post, I am waiting to hear whether my application for a freelancer visa has been approved.
I am lucky because I am not from a war-torn country seeking refuge. I don’t need to be here in Germany because I have a relative who is ill, nor do I need medical care that I can only receive here.
My job as a freelance English teacher allows me to work anywhere in the world.
I grew up in a military family, moving back and forth from the United States to Europe as my father was transferred between duty stations. My final years of high school were spent in Munich, a place I still consider home.
I am here because I want to be here.
Is it idealistic to think that everyone should be afforded the same opportunity?
About the author:
Beth Hoke is rejoining the expat life after spending her childhood in Europe and the United States, then settling in Chicagoland to raise two daughters.
Now an empty nester, she is roaming Europe, armed with a TEFL certificate and an online position teaching English for EF.