A modified version of an executive order signed by Trump on March 6 came into force on Thursday June 29, imposing stricter visa criteria on people from Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Libya.
Only nationals from these countries who have a parent, child, spouse, sibling, daughter-in-law or son-in-law living in the US are eligible to apply for a visa to come to the US – but grandparents, as well as aunts, uncles, and fiancés are unable to do so. Similarly, family members in this second category who are currently living in the US but are not naturalised Americans are wary about travelling overseas, in case they are barred from returning to the US.
And so, a new hashtag was born: #GrandparentsNotTerrorists. Americans furious that their family members are being equated with terrorists have adopted the hashtag. An Instagram account, pithily named “Banned Grandmas”, is collating photos of Americans with their grandmothers.
The Trump administration has rebutted claims that this is a “Muslim ban”, saying that it is based on US immigration law, and does not discriminate against certain religions.
Arteen Afshar is a student at Georgia State University. She was born and raised in Georgia, and is an American citizen – but her Iranian grandmother, who has been living legally in the United States for the last eight years, will be affected by the ban.
“I posted the photo because I wanted people to know how this is affecting people”
My parents were born in Iran and have been here for 27 years. They moved here after they got married at the age of 18, and my grandparents came with them to help with the baby. My grandpa has passed away, and my grandma has continued to go back and forth to Iran for 27 years.
She has always dreamed of becoming an American citizen and really belonging in this country. Recently we were so close to getting that citizenship, she had had the test and everything, and once President Trump announced the Muslim ban we realised that opportunity was over for her. We have been supporting her for such a long time, trying to help her get her American dream.
“My grandma is worrying that if she goes overseas she won’t be able to come back again”
That photo I took of her was taken on November 9, 2016, the day after the election. I had just got back from class and we were watching the news, and we sat and we talked and I explained to her what was happening and how things were going to be very different now. And she just broke down crying. And that was the pattern for a few weeks after the election.
I posted the photo to Twitter because I wanted people to know how this is affecting people. Right now my aunt and uncle can’t come here to see my grandmother. She is worrying that if she goes overseas she won’t be able to come back again. Families are being torn apart all because the administration can’t find common ground with these countries. The countries that are on the list seem so random. Of course Saudi Arabia is not on the list because Trump has business ties there!
He wants to “make America great again”? Well, that’s not going to happen when you are spreading hateful rhetoric. Racism is not patriotism. This ban is a blatant act of discrimination against the Muslim community.