Where do we go from here?

The effect of Trump's ban on international students


    International students from Pakistan Raza Zaidi and Muhammad Taimoor Malik have felt growing concern about Trump’s travel ban. They worry about the effects of these types of policies on DePauw students for generations to come.

    TDP: What are your current thoughts about the ban and its effect on you and those you know?

    MTM: The first thing that happened is that my uncle called me, who is actually a permanent resident in the United States. He’s a green card holder, and we’re both from Pakistan. Pakistan isn’t on the list, but he said, “Don’t travel back.” I only get to travel back home once a year. I said, “We’re not on the list or anything,” and he said, “For now we’re not, but with this whole situation, you never know. He might just add a few countries, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

    RZ: I’m a green card holder from the States, and we came to the States after twenty years of waiting to get an interview call. My uncle filed a petition for me and my family before I was born and the interview call came in 2014. So we thought we would have some sort of equal rights, you know? People like us, from Pakistan, especially those from Southeast Asia, come here, not because we want to experience a life of luxury, but because we know that there are opportunities here. We know that we can exercise our freedom religiously, ethnically, and culturally over here if we weren’t able to do that in our own country.  

    MTM: Something that really surprises me is when people say it’s not a Muslim Ban. I mean, they are all Muslim countries; how can you say it’s not a Muslim Ban? It’s appalling to say that you’re just going to ban all of those countries under the assumption that all terrorists come from Muslim countries or that all Muslims are terrorists. Is the term “terrorist” just reserved for us?

    RZ: Mike Pence recently issued a statement that Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology. If it’s not a Muslim ban, then why are most of the countries affected Islamic? The reason why they’re doing this is because if it’s an ideology, it’s not going to be considered a religion. And if it’s not considered a religion, then we won’t be given any religious rights.

    TDP: What does this ban mean on campus for international students from countries all over the world, especially when you can see through the façade?

    RZ: On campus, I’m not scared of this in our generation, but I’m scared that if this continues then future generations might have to face some sort of clear bias or racism. I know we say that we want a sanctuary campus and all, but the government doesn’t give a shit about that, to be honest. They can do whatever they want, deport who they want, and DePauw can’t do anything about it.

      TDP: What is your stance on DePauw’s reluctance to label itself as a sanctuary campus?

        MTM: I mean, they do take necessary measures and all. Honestly, personally, I don’t feel unsafe on this campus. I feel like my rights are protected. My fraternity brothers, they’re always welcoming, and many have personally come up and told me, “This isn’t what we voted for. This isn’t what we wanted, and we want to personally apologize.” And I say, “You guys don’t have to apologize for this.” Media and politicians, that’s what they do. They play games, and they convince you that this is what we want to do and this is what we will do. “It’s better for you to make America whatever.” It’s all a game.

    TDP: What does Congress’ rejection of the ban mean?

    RZ: I’m kind of afraid that, you know, what if he does it in a really dramatic way? The immigration process for my family and me took twenty years. What if he prolongs it for forty or fifty years? It’s just a way of stopping people with a certain race or religion from entering. If the supreme court won’t let this happen one way, he’s going to try it another way.

    MTM: There’s no direct answer to what’s going to happen. It’s all speculation. As of now, we all have our fears and concerns. Maybe some people are happy, maybe some people wanted it that way. That’s what’s actually scary. People voted for someone who actually wanted that to happen. It shows the underbelly of society, which has been there for a while. It’s how these people propagate and manipulate the public into believing that this is what’s actually happening.

    TDP: Where do we go from here?

    RZ: We should go where we’re supposed to go. What is this country based on? It’s based on democracy, right? It’s based on equal rights, for every person. Male, female, transgender, whatever. And that’s where we should go. That’s what we should aim for. That’s what we should work for, and even if there are people who are not on your side, I still think there are a lot who are. Instead of criticizing, we should always still work for unity.

    MTM: And we should work even with the people who are on the other side. For example, if there is some person in Greencastle who absolutely hates me just because I’m a Muslim, I’m not going to hate him. I have to see it from his point of view. He may think that 9/11 was something that we all did, or that all of the terrorist attacks in the United States are because of us. I want him to meet me, an actual Muslim who has seen both sides and who was affected by terrorism. No religion advocates for killing anyone for absolutely no reason. So, to go forward, I guess just educate yourself. Meet a Muslim. Talk to them. Read the Quran, and find out for yourself what it actually is and not what you think it to be, because there’s a huge difference.