This is Democracy in Action: America’s Response to Trump’s Ban on Refugees

This article was originally published in Extra Newsfeed.

A downcast female, presumably of Native descent, staring at the ground as she holds a sign that reads “All white people are immigrants here (literally all of you)”.

A woman in a hijab, holding a handmade poster that says “2/3 of Trump’s wives were immigrants…proving once again we need immigrants to do jobs most Americans wouldn’t do.”

A simple photograph of a smiling, turtle-necked Steve Jobs, captioned “The son of a Syrian immigrant”.

These are just a few of the catchy yet thought-provoking signs that I’ve seen on social media over the past few days, taken during impromptu protests against the Trump Administration’s ban on refugees from around the world. The ban also bars entry to the US for ninety days for all citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, leading some to refer to this action as a Muslim Ban.

While posting on social media can easily be shrugged off as slacktivisim, it has the powerful effect of making Americans aware of what their fellow countrymen are doing. This past weekend, anyone with an internet connection could feel the palpable disdain for these new policies — the boiling anger that has been simmering for weeks, bubbling to the surface. Americans are pissed.

The Trump Administration is taking a hard line on immigration, but so far it appears to be an emotional and reactionary stance: they are enacting a policy because it was promised to Trump’s diehard supporters during one of his many rhetoric-fueled campaign speeches. Simple procedural steps one would expect during the rollout of any government plan were not followed; the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency that oversees border protection, was not even consulted for legal advice as to how the order should be implemented before it was signed.

Additionally, Border Patrol agents were not notified of the policy before it was signed into law, nor were they given guidelines as to how travelers currently in transit should be handled. The result was utter confusion on a national scale — hardly a good look for Trump’s first major policy initiative.

Brian Hooks, co-chairman of the Billionaire Koch Brothers’ donor network, declared that “we believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families”, and that “the travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive”. When the Koch Brothers think that an action is too conservative, there is a good chance that the American public will agree.

Many Americans thought that perhaps Trump was spouting nasty rhetoric simply to win the election, yet held out hope that he would govern as a moderate. That is far from the case, and his far-reaching executive actions have prompted a sentiment among many Americans: this is not my America.

Our country is made up of a diverse group of people, almost all of whom have roots in foreign lands. Who are we to say that now, in 2017, the doors are shut, and no one else can be an American? Our country is getting younger, more liberal, and less white. Immigration bans such as these are only politically feasible for so long and ultimately, do not represent the direction our country is going: the America that refuses entry to refugees across the globe is not the America of millennials.

If you are one of the many, many people out there that are constantly getting news alerts about these hard-line, overreaching acts of the Executive Branch that you don’t agree with, if you feel that This Is Not My America, well, it’s time to make your voice heard.

This is the time to show the rest of the world how democracy works. A functioning democracy means that the government reacts to the will of the people — people demonstrating peacefully, citizens writing opinion pieces stating their cases, and taxi drivers standing outside airports, protesting against executive actions they don’t agree with.

Americans have the right of free speech. It is our right to speak our minds, for what we believe in, and use our words, actions, letters, posts, and yes, poster signs, to let others know how we feel — to let others know that they don’t stand alone, that there are others out there that feel that this America, Trump’s America, is not the kind of country we want to call home.

We are witnessing democracy in action: ordinary Americans standing up to make their voices heard. If you don’t agree with what your government is doing, the time has come to say something.

This new America is not the America that I want to live in, and I won’t stand by silently while others make it worse. Will you?