I used to joke about Traveling While Arab. I can share many stories about when I was ‘randomly searched‘. I never thought that being profiled was that big of a deal. That changed when my dad called to ask if he could travel to Aruba under Trump’s initial executive order which restricted entry into the United States for those with visas or green cards from a list of countries that included Iraq.
I said, “Dad, you’re an American citizen with an American passport. Don’t be crazy.” Paranoid, he went as far as to ask the general counsel at his work if it was a good idea to travel. The lawyer said it would not be a problem but cautioned against traveling with an Iraqi passport.
The Iraqi passport comment was amusing. While it may be useful to have a second passport from the EU or the UK, I am confident that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi Americans are not holding dual citizenship and those that do have an Iraqi passport aren’t vacationing with it.
While my dad had nothing to fear, the same could not be said about my uncle who only has a green card. Theoretically, under Trump’s travel ban, my uncle, who has been in the US longer than I have been alive, could not have gone to Canada and returned until the moratorium was lifted.
The ‘good’ news came this week when Trump took Iraq off of the list. I put good in quotes because the ban still applies to Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, and Iran. For immigrant families who came from those countries and have prospered in the US, this ban is an insult. It is divisive. And, most importantly, it is ineffective. The leaked results from a study from the Department of Homeland Security, show that country of origin has little to do with the propensity to commit terrorist acts. Instead, it found that homegrown terrorism posed was a bigger issue. The attackers in Paris were born in Europe. The San Bernardino killer was born in the United States. And the list goes on.
Correlating country of origin with the likelihood of becoming a terrorist is as stupid as linking rap music with criminal behavior. The real problem is integration and assimilation, something that a travel ban will not promote.