If Donald Trump has his way this week, I may never get to bring my husband home.
By Rabyaah Althaibani
I am an American of Yemeni descent. I married by husband, a Yemeni, in Goa, India in January 2016. After our wedding, I flew back to the New York to start the process of getting him an immigrant visa. But with the Muslim ban looming, immigration authorities keep delaying us.
After the Muslim ban, our opportunity to forge the life we dreamed of together turned into a nightmare.
We have been apart since our honeymoon, waking up day after day in political limbo. My husband’s work as journalist and human rights activist made him a target of extremist violence. These threats became a way of life, until the death threats no longer could be ignored. He now lives in exile, not able to return home, not able to be with me here in the United States, because of his identity.
For me Donald Trump’s tweets about the Muslim ban aren’t anecdotal. They are a reflection of the oppression we fled. We came into the arms of a country with a historic port, inscribed with the words, “Give us your tired, Your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I’m asking you to take action so that these words can live up to their true meaning.
Anti-Muslim protests, organized by ACT for America, took place across the country over the weekend. I attended the counter-protest in New York City. This is personal for me, but it’s also about all of us.
The white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups that joined these protests believe that people like me — and perhaps people like you — don’t belong here. They’re demonizing Muslims now, but their hatred extends to LGBT individuals, African Americans, Jewish Americans — anyone who they see as different. What’s really dangerous is that their hate is being normalized and mainstreamed.
We can’t just fight back, we need to move forward, remembering racist intolerance and those who stood up to it, whose shoulders we stand on today. Imagine the kind of power we can have when we refuse to remain silent and act to influence the direction of our democracy and safeguard our future and our children’s future. We must build a world where not only Muslims, but all persecuted communities and people can find acceptance, protected by societies that are governed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
If the Trump administration prevails this week — it’s asking the Supreme Court to lift the injunction on the Muslim ban, letting it go into effect as soon as tomorrow — they’ll have successfully claimed the power to put sheer bigotry into law, simply by claiming it’s for “national security.”
At times, I feel helpless. But these past few months, I’ve also been amazed by the thousands of people who’ve fought back. I was at Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy airport when, after the first Muslim ban executive order, hundreds of people came to protest and bear witness to what was happening. The protests were organized by groups including the New York Immigration Coalition and activist Murad Awawada.
Still, if the Trump administration wins in the Supreme Court, my life could be thrown into even more chaos. Last week, Basheer told me that two of his friends had been killed in Yemen. “I can’t do this anymore,” he told me.
I do this for my husband, Basheer. I tell him I’ll come to him, we’ll go to the US embassy together. We will beat this.
Together, we will beat this.