By Farhad Wadia
Editor’s Note: On Friday evening, January 27, 2017, we sent out a notice to our clients relaying the details of President Trump’s executive order blocking the entry of visa-holders, refugees, and LPRs from seven predominantly-Muslim nations, namely Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen. Among other things, we strongly discouraged clients or the employees of corporate clients from these countries from travelling outside the United States. Outraged by Trump’s actions, Farhad K. Wadia wrote to us this spontaneous, eloquent response. Mr. Wadia is the Chief Executive Officer of Samuels Jewelers, a multi-million dollar specialty jewelry chain. Under Mr. Wadia’s leadership, Samuels Jewelers has expanded to 123 stores across twenty-two states and now employs over 800 people. Mr. Wadia, who is a citizen of India, is also a proud lawful permanent resident. Note that there have been some clarifications to the EO since last Friday, the situation remains fluid as interpretations keep on changing.
This weekend, I was shocked to hear that President Trump had not only banned refugees and visitors from seven Muslim countries, but that Lawful Permanent Residents from these nations were also denied entry. Due to the uproar from protests this weekend, the White House has since rolled back on its policy denying entry to LPRs; however, many more people, including temporary workers and students, continue to suffer under this inhumane policy.
This Executive Action has already ripped apart families and shattered the dreams of professionals and students. Twice before in American history have such actions caused untold hardship and suffering to innocent people. The first of which was the U.S. refusal to admit Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Upon return to Nazi Germany, these people were violently persecuted and/or killed at concentration camps. The second was the internment of Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, causing immense trauma and untold misery. Trump’s recent actions join these events in the halls of infamy and serve as a degradation of American values.
Despite these spots on its history, America, has historically served as a beacon of hope and opportunity for citizens and immigrants alike. It has allowed me, an immigrant and now proud lawful permanent resident, the opportunity to grow a successful company, contribute to the American economy, and employ hundreds of workers. But I am no exception. America has given millions of people the opportunity to create new and better lives for themselves and become leaders in their communities. Immigrants to America have become influential politicians, doctors, teachers, business leaders, and scientists that have all made this country stronger.
Trump’s Executive Orders against immigrants and refugees stands in stark contrast to these cherished values. This is not the America that the world admires and respects, where the inscription on the Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Trump has instead shut America’s door to those most vulnerable by blocking the admission of Syrian refugees, and has disrupted the lives of hundreds of visa holders seeking to continue their studies or careers.
These executive orders, in addition to the recent order heightening the status of Steven Bannon within the National Security Council, lead me to worry about the fate of America. Specifically in regards to immigrant workers, Mr. Bannon has been exceptionally discriminatory against Asian (citizen and noncitizen) workers in Silicon Valley. Relying on made-up statistics, Mr. Bannon has implied that there are too many Asian CEOs and workers in the tech industry. Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions have both suggested rolling back employment-based immigration, even for the most talented workers that are capable of bringing ingenuity and success to the economy. I fear that this weekend’s actions are only the beginning of what is to come.
The suspension of immigration will only serve to hurt America. This country was built upon the backs of immigrants. Immigrants have made this country better. They have made this country stronger. Trump’s discriminatory orders will only reverse progress and growth, both economically and socially. America is better than this, and now is the time for the American people to stand up and fight against this injustice. As Martin Niemöller once wrote,
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Let the American people take these words seriously, and refuse to allow Trump and his administration to degrade the values that this country was founded upon.