The #MuslimBan adds to the problems that innocent Muslims around the world are facing, and it is scaring the American Muslim community, too. Refugees are being held back, people’s lives are being interrupted, and the disempowerment holds heavy implications.
For some of us, it takes a moment for reality to hit- because its directly affecting people who are not us, but we know deep down, that when a door like this opens, it has to be shut before anything else falls through. For others, such issues awaken immediate fear and sorrow, because we realize that those affected are actually us, they simply came from a different piece of land later then we did. I’m not sure what to say about the rest, the indifferent, whoever they may be.
When you live to make your community a better place, only to find public and executive sentiment against those who share your most sacred characteristics, you will know.
When someone makes up their mind about you on fundamental matters before getting to know you, you will know.
When you see people who share your identity being treated this way- and their treatment is more than you can fathom- you will know.
So, how can you help Muslims, refugees and immigrants throughout this ban?
1. Call your local elected officials.
Make it clear to them that you expect them to protect refugees and immigrant families in your city, county, and state.
2. Offer your expertise.
It is crucial that people at risk know their rights, so educate your community about the circumstances and empower them with the knowledge they need. If you are a lawyer, you can be really helpful.
3. If you are not an expert, you can work to funnel experts to vital points, such as local mosques.
Everyone can help.
4. Just be there.
Offer your patience to anyone who might be struggling. Listen. Let it be about them.
Getting a text or a call asking if everything is okay is a nice reminder that there are people who care about potentially affected persons and will fight for them.
6. Look out for people who just made it into the country.
The last families to be vetted who just came in might be scared enough already, they could probably use a warm welcome.
7. Check in on refugees and immigrants in your community.
Even if they have been adjusting for awhile, the process may still be settling in for them. The added situation is not helpful.
8. Prepare for the future.
Not only should you educate yourself, but become more civically involved if you weren’t before. The status of local officials can have an outcome on the next presidential election.
9. Aside from civic involvement, continue with community involvement.
Muslims and immigrants who are not directly affected by the ban should remember that when doors like this open, everyone is affected, whether they realize it or not. Stay in touch with the real world.
10. Support the ACLU.
Whether you can give them a thumbs up, volunteer your time, or donate, add to their effort.
Furthermore, look into other organizations and civil rights groups that you can support and bring attention to.
11. Don’t become complacent.
Don’t let your children or grandchildren grow up in a country or a world where it is standard for refugees to be held like prisoners all over again.
12. Your education isn’t limited to the rights you and your neighbors have.
Don’t forget how or why immigrants and refugees became immigrants and refugees. There are some good reasons why immigrants came here, but that gives no excuse to ignore the reasons why refugees need to.
In short: don’t let a history of bad foreign and public policy repeat itself.
13. The education you can provide isn’t limited to legal matters, either.
Not everyone keeps up with the news, especially if it does not directly affect them.
Keep friends and family up to date.
14. Can you teach English?
Do you have access to a network of people who can teach English or translate for immigrants and refugees? Connect people.
15. Keep your senses sharp for anyone who might face discrimination or harassment.
Not all discrimination can be seen, but it can be detected. Harassment calls for support and solidarity. An increase of hate crimes were witnessed during the election, and people are still spreading bad rhetoric under this new leadership. The ban may be inherently empowering for anyone with Islamophobic sentiments to spread hate.