Banned From the US

Banned From the US

It was a normal day with fairly nice weather, and the traffic wasn’t too bad. Aleena Ismail was on her way to the airport to drop off her mother and younger siblings. At an unusually long red light, she casually pulled out her phone and tapped on the blue Facebook icon.

She quickly scrolled through her feed on the lookout for something interesting—something that could make her smile and post a nice, quick comment. Then she saw it: “Trump’s New Travel Ban Blocks…” Trying to process all the information, she just sat there tightly gripping the steering wheel.

19-year-old biology and nursing major Aleena Ismail is fortunately unaffected by President Trump’s travel ban on six predominantly Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. However, she knows of many who are affected.

“None of my immediate family members are affected by Trump’s ban, but my family and I know of many people who are affected by the ban due to their living in Dubai for six years,” she said.

Truth be told, Ismail is in rather unclear territory—she is neither directly affected nor completely unaffected by the ban. While she is relieved that she and her family aren’t chained down by Trump’s executive action, she is hesitant to breathe a sigh of relief, as so many fellow Muslim Americans do not have the same feeling of comfort.

Another reason Ismail cannot shake off her feelings of anxiety is simply because she looks the part.   

“[Racism] has been happening my whole life. When I dropped my mom and little sisters off at the airport, I made sure to stay in touch with them until they were at the gate just in case something happened,” she said.

In theory, Ismail has nothing to worry about—something she is well aware of. In fact, her life in the United States now and in the past hasn’t experienced wild turns. Nevertheless, living here as a Muslim American has been quite a challenge for her, especially in the last few years.    

“I have always been taught to be cautious, due to the many incidents occurring in the news on a daily basis. Therefore, Trump’s opinion on Muslims hasn’t drastically changed my views or the way I feel living in America. However, I have encountered a few more racist scenarios,” she said.

Because she has already encountered many cases of xenophobic conduct against Muslims, Ismail isn’t too surprised by Trump’s actions, including his controversial travel ban.

“When I heard the news that Trump put a ban on the Muslim countries, I wasn’t surprised. Honestly, Trump’s vocalization of his opinions on Muslims hasn’t affected me as much as people think it would. His opinions are not original in the fact that many people have the same thoughts and ideas as he does, and it’s not the first time these discriminatory ideas have surfaced. Trump’s campaign has only given people the excuse to act upon their feelings of Muslims,” she said.

Still, it’s tough for Ismail to sit around her friends and family who are affected, knowing there’s not a lot she can do to help ease the concern. She believes the least she can do is fight for the cause of everyone—not just the Muslim community—who is oppressed under the Trump presidency.

“Muslims shouldn’t only be complaining about the treatment they are receiving, but rather join in on the protests against everything that needs to be changed in America,” she said. “As much as I am against Trump and his ideas, he is not the only one to blame, it’s also the people who are supporting his campaign.”