This speech was written by Bashir Al-Asad, a Yemeni-American who spoke at our No Muslim Ban Community Forum on June 28, 2018. The views expressed in this blog post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ACLU of Virginia.
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Bashir Al-Asad. I am a U.S. citizen, a husband, a father, a son, a teacher, a businessman, and a proud member of a great and productive Yemeni American community.
The history of the great United States of America is endowed by the contributions of immigrants and their descendants. Yemeni Americans are a good example of those immigrants who enriched the ethnic and cultural fabric of this great nation. They are indeed an integral part of America’s industrial and agricultural success and prosperity.
Records show that Yemenis immigrated to the United States as early as 1869. Yemeni Americans fought and died side by side with their brothers in arms in World War I and World War II, and many of them are currently in the US forces serving their country like their fathers did before them.
Mr. President, you have called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, violating the core principals of American democracy, and the promise of religious liberty guaranteed by our great Constitution. And unfortunately, the Supreme Court has sided with you. They sided with fear, racism, and xenophobia, against the American ideals of religious freedom and tolerance.
Mr. President - Do you even know who Yemeni Americans are? Have you met any of them or read about their history?
If you don’t know Mr President, ask the automobile assembly lines of Detroit. Ask the steel mills of Lackawanna. Ask the agricultural fields of central California. Ask the farms of San Joaquin Valley in Fresno, California. Ask the factories of Canton, Ohio. Or better yet, since you are from New York, ask Brooklyn and Queens. For if they were to speak they will tell you of a proud people, a spirited and generous people, a family oriented, peace-loving, hardworking and honest people—who like others are trying to live the American dream and make this dream a reality for themselves and their families.
Sadly, Yemenis are now the victims of a cruel Proxy War, an all-out civil war, a complete air, sea, and land blockade. A total economic collapse with poverty, famine, and starvation as a direct result. According to the United Nations, Yemen is now on the brink of humanitarian disaster, the world's worst humanitarian crisis of 2018. Over 8 million children in Yemen are on the brink of starvation and about 18 million souls will be on the brink of starvation within a year or so.
Yemeni Americans and their families are now stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are indeed in a very bad situation, only made worst by the misguided decision to issue a travel ban, and the unfortunate decision of the Supreme Court to uphold such a ban. Many Yemeni Americans have spouses and children, fathers and mothers who are either trying to leave the war-torn country, or who escaped Yemen and are stuck in limbo abroad because of the travel ban. Many of them have spent their life savings and their valuable time applying through the legal channels of the immigration system, and are only waiting for the visas to be processed. This Ban and the Supreme Court decision has turned this very long nightmare into a very long and ugly reality.
Mr. Trump—You are tearing these families apart at the time they need each other the most.
Mr. President, you may’ve won this round. But you will never ever win this fight.
Because you are in wrong side of history.
Because you don’t represent America or its values.
Because you are an outlier in a pattern of tolerance and inclusion.
Because hope will always prevail above fear, and love over hate.
God bless the great United States of America.