As Donald Trump‘s oft-promised travel ban finally comes into effect after a number of legal battles, members of communities in the US set to be hit by the ban fear what it will mean for the futures of both their families and themselves.
Portions of the ban, affecting six Muslim-majority nations – Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – were passed by the Supreme Court this week and went into effect on Thursday evening local time. For those in the Bay Ridge area of Southern Brooklyn – home to one of the largest Yemeni communities in New York – many are bracing for a struggle.
For those in the Yemeni community there, they’re worried about what Mr Trump’s policy will mean for friends and family hoping to flee to the US from war and disease. They’re worried about their own futures, too. And, they’ve already begun to feel the effect the President’s rhetoric has had on the attitudes of the American people.
“It’s really, really tough. It’s petrifying, to be honest”, Emma Ali, a 30-year-old woman of Yemeni descent who has lived in Brooklyn her entire life, told The Independent.
Ms Ali, like many others in Bay Ridge has family that is stuck in limbo trying to flee from the deadly civil war in Yemen. As Mr Trump’s travel ban has moved through the court system, news of deaths have continued to arrive from that country, adding to the concern that the ban will end the chance for friends and family to find safe haven in America. Ms Ali has no idea what will happen to her sister, who is waiting in Jordan on final approval to come to the US.
Many are confused by Mr Trump’s ban. For those born and raised in the US, they note that they are just as much American as the President, hijab or not.
Samia Aljahmi, 37, sat down exhausted after teaching an English class to a small group in the Al-Noor Social Centre, and said that her Muslim faith instructs her to respect the President no matter what, but that she is worried nonetheless. Born and raised in Michigan, Brooklyn is her adopted home. She works at the centre helping people prepare for the naturalisation test to become American citizens. Mr Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims has taken a toll – she now is told by people to “go back to your country” on the streets, even though she’s a third generation American – but she said that cultural current hasn’t deterred her or her students.
“They love America”, she said. “They love being here. They love the opportunities they have here….