The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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The Muslim Ban Is Un-American
Immigrants make America great
Melanie Mata

President Trump has signed two executive orders in an attempt to ban immigrants from muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. He has also suspended the United States’ refugee acceptance system for 120 days. As a daughter of immigrant parents who came to the United States for a better life, I am deeply distressed by these orders.

My grandparents came to the United States to get away from the economic crisis in the Dominican Republic during the 1990s. The D. R. is an island that many Americans know for its luxurious resorts. What most people don’t know is the everyday struggles of poverty.

My grandparents lived through the 30-year dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, who took over in 1930. He rose to power through torture and political maneuvering. If citizens questioned him, they were often detained, tortured, and killed.

In 1937, he also ordered the massacre of an estimated 20,000 Haitians who lived in the D.R.: a horrific attempt to scapegoat or blame Haitians for the country’s economic problems.

By the 90s, my grandparents determined their best hope was to start over in the United States. My grandmother’s brother married an American citizen. He sponsored my grandmother so she was able to move here as a permanent resident and eventually became a naturalized citizen. Although both of my parents were born in the D.R., they were able to eventually immigrate here.

Because of the United States’ welcoming policies, my mother and father have become citizens and can contribute to America’s success, as immigrants have always done.

Muslim Ban Is Racist

Not allowing people into our country who are in search of a better life, like my family, is inhumane. Moreover, it’s not even an effective way to keep us safe. What Trump is doing is scapegoating innocent Muslims.

image by YC-Art Dept

None of the terrorists who have carried out attacks in the U.S. in the past 15 years have come from any of the seven nations on Trump’s initial executive order list: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Also, none of the countries the September 11 attackers were from are on the list; most of the 19 hijackers on the planes were from Saudi Arabia; the rest were from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. If we’re going to exclude immigrants from an entire country based on the threat of terrorism, history suggests that Saudi Arabia should be number one on the list.

As much as the administration wants to claim it isn’t about religion but about national security, I believe President Trump is targeting Muslims because of their religion and the stereotypes built by Western societies around Islam. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani admitted that Trump asked him for legal help constructing a Muslim ban that wouldn’t look like a Muslim ban. This is racist and violates the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

Between 2001 and 2015, homegrown extremists killed more Americans than Islamic terrorists from other countries did. For example, Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans in 2015. This occurred in a Charleston, South Carolina church and was classified as a mass murder rather than a terrorist attack. Yet Roof was motivated by an ideology—white supremacy. If a Muslim-American committed the same act, it would be labeled terrorism.

The U.S.—Still a Symbol of Freedom?

If the president is so concerned about our country’s safety, he should focus on homegrown crime, not punishing innocent human beings who want to come here for a better life.

It seems Trump no longer wants America to be a symbol of open arms and freedom. The United States has historically welcomed immigrants. Many people come here because America is seen as the land of opportunity, a place to rebuild their lives. Is Trump trying to change the way our country is viewed? What will that mean for our future?

For instance, the 2024 Summer Olympics and the 2026 World Cup, both of which unite different cultures and celebrate achievements in athletics, are supposed to be held in Los Angeles. But what if the Muslim ban doesn’t allow athletes from targeted nations to enter the U.S. to compete?

It takes a lot of courage for people to immigrate to a new place and it’s especially scary being denied access. Although I don’t practice Islam or come from any of these countries, I feel for these people. I go to school and live in Queens in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has hauled away parents of some kids I know.

The success and progress of the United States is built by immigrants, and our country is a symbol of freedom. I hope we can keep it that way by not denying people access due to racist stereotypes.

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