As an international student, President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order to bar citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States is terrifying. While I am not from one of the seven countries, I wonder if my nonimmigrant F-1 student status will later be revoked as immigration orders tighten. I am fearful for my friends from the named countries who face discrimination simply because of their nationality. I am discomforted by the fact that the so-called land of the free, where I chose to pursue my education, could possibly not be so free to certain people.
However, I still believe that hasty judgments should be saved for a later time. After all, it has only been a little over two weeks of a 200+ week Trump presidency. The checks and balances in the US democratic system ensure that the president remains a president, not a king with ultimate power.
This does not mean that we should blindly follow his policies. We should not sit back and watch the president radicalize the political and social climate. Instead, we need to vigilantly and comprehensively examine his plans and actions, just as we would for any president.
In a press conference held last Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly stated that Trump’s immigration and refugee order is a “temporary pause that allows us to better review the existing refugee and visa vetting system”. This appears to be appropriate reasoning coming from a man whose administration touts increased security and defense. Kelly also underscored that this is “not a ban on Muslims,” as religious liberty is at the core of American values. Yet the regulation seems rather rash and simplistic, considering that there are numerous negative side effects that could possibly counteract the measure of protecting the homeland. As the executive order is provisional and premature at this time, we must wait to see how much further the Trump administration will take it.
Moreover, painting all Trump supporters with a broad brush should be condemned. There clearly are extremist, homophobic, close-minded individuals within that group. Nevertheless, most of them, who constitute nearly half of the voting population, are not such radicals. We should, instead, reflect on the media and Democratic Party’s failure to notice the anti-establishment sentiment that resonated across the country.
At Cornell, where liberal viewpoints tend to dominate the political discussion, Trump supporters are often afraid to speak out about their views because they could easily be shunned as hate-filled conservatives. A dining hall worker, who has a son in the military, said she voted for Trump out of the belief that he was more pro-military. Yet, she did not feel comfortable about speaking out about her decision because most of her colleagues and students and faculty disagreed.
I believe that the greatest strength of Cornell and the larger American community is its diversity and openness to different opinions. However, a recent trend has been taking place in which the left and right shun each other’s opinions. I sincerely hope that both sides of the political spectrum will accept the fact that not everyone can agree with their way of thinking. As such, we should reserve any immediate assumptions we hold for the Trump administration and its proponents until we have fully evaluated its policies. Not enough time has passed to draw conclusions at this point.