Caitlin Betts and Can Yazgat

The author, Caitlin Betts ’18, with Can Yozgat, a Lincoln Academy junior from Turkey.

By Caitlin Betts ’18

In the days following January 27, over 1200 people were prevented from boarding their flights and nearly 60,000 visas were revoked. Executive Order 13769, nicknamed the “Travel” or “Muslim” Ban, has impacted many travelers and legal citizens of the United States since it was signed on January 27, 2017. Lincoln Academy is currently host to 94 international students, some of whom could be affected by the provisions set forth by Trump and his administration. The ban instructed US cabinet secretaries to suspend the entry of those coming from countries that did not meet our immigration law, and temporarily put the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) on hold. The media quickly picked up on the hundreds of travelers detained at airports, and protests broke out nationwide.

What has happened since then? When President Trump signed the executive order, individuals from six countries- Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and Yemen, were denied entry to the United States for three months. Many travellers returning to the US, even green card holders, were detained and subjected to questioning on the day that President Trump signed the order. By that evening, the Department of Homeland Security clarified that green card holders were exempt from these restrictions. However, by the afternoon of January 28, the President and his circle decided to extend the ban to green card holders. Those with permanent legal residence (green cards) in the United States were not officially exempt from the ban until January 29, when chief of staff Reince Priebus stated that they would not be denied access to the United States after extra questioning. The next backtrack of the ban occurred during the week of January 31, when 872 refugees were accepted into the country despite the suspension of the refugee admissions program.

The beginning of the end came on February 3, when US Judge James Robart temporarily suspended the ban on the terms that it was unconstitutional. Further court hearings met to discuss the suspension of the ban, and the appeals court ruled against the revival of the ban on February 9. President Trump refused to give up the fight, and introduced a revised version of the ban that explicitly stated that green card holders would not be affected by the order. In addition to this, Iraq was removed from the list of banned countries, and the cap refugee admission per year was lowered to 50,000. Set to begin on March 16, Trump’s new order was declared unconstitutional just hours before it was set to go into effect.

Lincoln Academy, a small high school located in Newcastle, Maine, is host to 94 international students. Of the 94 students, some are from Yemen, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Although Yemen is the only country specifically mentioned in the ban, they are all Muslim-majority nations.

When interviewed, a Lincoln Academy student from Turkey expressed that “the immigration laws are already really strict in the US, and in a republic, the government should not be posing religious or ethnic rules on the citizens or foreigners.” When asked if he felt safe in the United States, Can Yozgat, who began attending Lincoln Academy in 2014, said “Yes and no. Even though I know that the community that I live in is safe and against any type of racism, I personally fear that racism, especially Islamophobia, is rising in the US.”

When examining the provisions of the executive order, it is important for us to recognize the implications that they may have on members of our own community. When something does not directly affect us or our loved ones, it is easy to disregard it as unimportant. However, it is up to us to create a safe environment for every member of our community- no matter their religion or ethnicity. In August, six Lincoln Academy students from Muslim majority nations plan to return to Maine from their home countries. For many people, the travel ban is theoretical. For the Lincoln Academy community, it is personal.

Caitlin Betts is a junior at Lincoln Academy and a student in the Yearbook and Communications Class.