When President Trump signed an executive order in January attempting to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, Muslim students on college campuses — including at Michigan State University — responded with protests.
Federal courts blocked the order, along with another signed in March. But Trump’s efforts have created uncertainty for some students. The ban sought to block citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from traveling to the United States.
Ramie Taher, an American Syrian and member of the Muslim Students’ Association at Michigan State University, said the travel plan was an uneducated decision. The campus student organization was among groups that organized events in opposition to the plan.
“If Trump had simply looked into how Syrians, Somalis, Iraqis and Iranians can get into the U.S., it is almost impossible to get a visa,” Taher said.
Taher’s aunt is a Syrian. He said she has been trying to apply a visa for four years.
“My aunt is a very wealthy person and her husband is a German,” Taher said. “Her daughter and husband have always got a visa, but she did not get it.”
Taher’s parents are Syrian. His father came to the U.S. as a doctor, and then the family moved back to Syria when Taher was 5. Now his parents live in Dubai.
He moved to the International School of Choueifat after the war started in Syria before moving to Dubai with his parents.
“All these moves weren’t enjoyable at all. They were worst time in my life,” he said. “I think a lot of people do not think about how refugees and immigrants are not coming here because they want to.”
In Michigan, there are 170,000 Muslims, 1.8 percent of the total population in the state, according to research by Fareed H. Numan of the American Muslim Council.
The United States has its roots in immigration, said Paya Dai, a freshman international student studying business at Michigan State University.
“It was the land of immigrants,” Dai said. “People from Europe and all over the world came to U.S. and developed this country.”
Paya Dai has a twin brother, Pouya Dai, who studies hospitality management at Michigan State. The twins are half Chinese and half Iranian.
When the executive order was signed, the twins were worried about their future in the U.S.
“We were supposed to see our mother in this summer until the executive order came out,” Paya Dai said. “She is expecting to see us, but now we cannot go to see her and she cannot come to see us.”
Pouya Dai said he thinks the ban is “nonsense.”
“It is a strong discrimination against these seven countries,” Pouya said. “Everyone has a right to go to other countries.”
Although the ban has been blocked by the courts, the Dais said they are still concerned.
“Trump is an unpredictable man,” Paya Dai said. “We do not know what he is going to do in the future.”