Natasha Hall writes: I conducted one of my last interviews as an immigration officer with the Department of Homeland Security in Istanbul, with Mahmoud and his 8-year-old son from Aleppo, Syria. The boy had lost his legs in the explosion that killed Mahmoud’s wife, sister and other children. It was supposed to be his first day at school in two years. Instead, they were in my office, reliving the worst experiences of their lives in an attempt to come to the United States. Mahmoud trembled as he spoke about returning to his home from work one day and digging his family members out of the rubble.
I had never been both so sad and so proud that this boy would be able to come to the United States and start school and a new life. Now I imagine them, four years after leaving Syria and three years after registering as refugees, being told to go back. Go back where?
This is what President Trump’s recent executive order has done. The order bans entry for citizens of seven countries for 90 days, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, halves the total number of refugees allowed into the United States this year and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely. It demands “a uniform screening standard and procedure,” “questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent,” “a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be” and “a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts.”
Whoever wrote this order is evidently not aware that these screenings, procedures and questions already exist. [Continue reading…]