On January 27th 2017, President Trump launched a controversial executive order temporarily banning the entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, resulting in another series of concurrent tidal waves of support and backlash.
When asked her views about the ban, Gianni Windahl, a journalism student at SMU, reflected on a quote by Ronald Regan: “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.” With this in mind, she believes “the temporary ban is a wise [way] to allow proper vetting of immigrants. National security is one of the few jobs of the federal government.”
Meanwhile Yasmeen Gadallah, a recent SMU international studies graduate, took to protest at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. “I felt a rush of emotions [at the airport protest]. I was very happy that people from different races were standing alongside me to fight for freedom.”
I felt the ban wasn’t fair because it specifically targets Muslim countries, who historically are not even on the list of countries who have harmed any American citizens. It makes no sense to trap people at airports who are harmless. But the DFW airport protest revived my hope in humanity. I realized that even if there is some sort of corruption in America, the power of the people is stronger,” continued Gadallah. “A united people can actually make a change. In that moment, I experienced the true definition of democracy.”
An anonymous SMU student shared a counter-opinion: “I think it’s amazing to be able to offer freedom and accept refugees fleeing a situation which America contributed to, especially if those people are open to American values. But assuring the entirety of the population that there’s no reason to fear these refugees is very important if [the refugees] are going to have a chance at assimilating in America without hesitation and pushback.”
“It is concerning to see the increase in assaults on women in Europe since the inflow of refugee migration,” continued Anonymous. “By no means is it a reason to stereotype any group, but it’s certainly a valid fear. Not banning, but indiscriminately pausing immigration for 90 days to more confidently accept refugees is not racist, it’s safe. Ensuring the safety of American citizens is the President’s first and foremost job.”
Americans such as Jack Mitchell, a biochemistry major at Bowdoin College, saw a different side to the executive order. “The immigration ban is unconstitutional and un-American. We have nothing to fear from Syrian refugees and the other six implicated countries, and our vetting process is already extreme. This [act] is merely an aspect of the regime of fear that Trump and Steve Bannon are implementing to coax Americans into relinquishing their liberties slowly but surely. The current administration appears determined to undermine public knowledge with the aim of taking total control of central government. We can see evidence for this in the constant lying, gag orders on government agencies, and continuous attacks on other branches of government – especially the courts who are supposed to check [the president’s] power.”
Emotions continue to run high as President Trump’s administration barrels forward with changes, and the world watches Americans’ divided reactions to various measures. The ink on History’s pen waits at the ready as Americans and the world have much to weigh in the coming four years, and what it means for the country and the United States’ position as the paragon of democracy. In the meantime, we must be aware that our every action and inaction writes the tale of our interesting, but unsettling time.
Stay tuned for my next “Volatile Opinions” post – Part IV – on SMU students’ reactions to a pro-life display and Carly Fiorina’s subsequent speech “Pro-Life and Presidential” at an event on campus.