It’s been three years since the Muslim Ban has been enacted, and thousands of people continue to be impacted by it every day.
Three years ago, President Trump signed an executive order blocking people from Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the US. While the legal nuances of the Muslim Ban has evolved over the last three years, the ban still remains in effect today and is part of a larger anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim mentality of the Trump administration.
For so many, the Muslim Ban is personal and heartbreaking. Syrians are just one of the nationalities deeply impacted by President Trump’s cruel and discriminatory bar of entry. The ban has not only prevented countless people from seeking safety in the US through the refugee resettlement program, but it also has also blocked thousands of Americans from being able to reunite with their relatives and loved ones.
Here are stories from some of the people who have been personally impacted by the ban.
Fareeha is a Syrian mother of three living as a refugee in Amman, Jordan. Her son lost his opportunity to resettle to the US due to the Muslim Ban.
“My family left Syria because of the escalating conflict. Fighting became more intense around our home in 2012, so I brought my adult kids and their families to Jordan in the hopes of safety. It’s very difficult to find work in Amman as a refugee and we must pay all of our expenses including rent, utilities, food.
“One of my sons and his family went through the US refugee resettlement process and was deemed eligible to be resettled into the US. He, his wife, 10 year old son and seven year old daughter went through the entire vetting process, which took almost four years of background checks, interviews and physical health examinations. They finally got approval to resettle to the US in the beginning of 2016. But when President Trump took office, he stopped them from being able to be resettled because of the Muslim Ban. The hardest part is that he can’t even apply to go somewhere else because his resettlement status says it’s still pending with the US. My son is now 37 years old and has been stuck in Jordan for four years now.”
Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Isra Chaker is Oxfam America’s Senior Migration and Protection campaign Lead and a Syrian-American civil rights activist who hasn’t been able to see her extended family living in Damascus for almost a decade, due to both the ongoing conflict in Syria and the Muslim Ban.
“I can’t believe it has been three years since the President of MY country made it legal to ban MY family. Three years of continued separation from my extended family who I already haven’t been able to see in person for years because of the Syrian conflict that tore our family apart. I used to believe the only hope I had to be reunited with my family members was my home, the United States of America, a country that stands for the values of welcoming people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions.
“I never thought the place I call home would slam the doors in the face of my family, and thousands of other families who have already been through too much conflict and trauma. I long for the days I will see them again with my own two eyes (not just on Facetime), when I can hug my aunts and uncles, spend time with my cousins, and try to make up for the many years we have been forced apart.
“When I heard that President Trump plans to expand the list of countries to the ban list — as if he is creating a new shopping list — my heart continues to break for the tens of thousands of new families who will be facing the same separation and pain my family has felt. The impact of these policies is something I experience every single day. I can’t ignore it or avoid it.”
Khaled Al-Wadi was an accountant in Syria before his family was forced to flee his home because of how unsafe his country became for his children. They’ve been living in Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp for almost seven years and was approved to be resettled to the US just weeks before President Trump’s Muslim Ban took effect back in 2017. Three years later, he still has heard nothing more about his approved resettlement status.
“The United Nations refugee agency contacted me that I was qualified to resettle within the US, so I began the extensive vetting process which included interviews for myself and each of my family members, security background checks from many agencies and a health examination. I got the final approval that I was approved to resettled to the US on Jan 8, 2017, right before the Muslim Ban took effect. I was so happy.
“At this time, President Trump was just inaugurated but we didn’t see or understand what his policies would look like for us. I then was told by the UN, that my family and I would not be able to travel anymore and that our resettlement was put on hold because of the Muslim Ban. That was the last I ever heard about our resettlement. From Jan 2017 until now, our resettlement status in the system is still “pending”.
“My family left Dara’a, Syria and came to Za’atari in 2013 due to the intense fighting of the war. My wife and I have one son (8) and one daughter (5) and their safety is our priority. I also contracted polio at a young age, so I desperately need quality healthcare services. In Syria, I was an accountant at a telecommunications company and was doing really well for myself and my family. Then the war started. When I first came to Za’atari, I was unemployed for four years, constantly looking for work to do. Since September 2016, I have been working with Oxfam in the camp on contract. The work has been fulfilling and I have really enjoyed it, but it isn’t a long-term option for us.
“I can’t imagine going back to Syria right now and I feel it’s like a reoccurring nightmare that haunts me because the situation is so bad and difficult. I was informed that my home in Syria was bombed and destroyed. The opportunity to find a job in Syria and have a good life doesn’t exist for me.
“The question I want to ask President Trump and Americans is why won’t you let people who are seeking safety come into your country? What have they done to you? Do they not deserve protection and safety?”
For these Syrians, every day the ban continues to be in place is another day they cannot be with their loved ones and find refuge from facing violence and persecution. Take a stand against intolerance and hatred and join us to demand that the next president immediately end the Muslim Ban once they take office. Raise your voice. Vote. Get involved. Demand #DignityForAll.
By Becky Davis, Oxfam America’s Press Officer for Policy and Campaigns