It’s all fun and games until one of your family members gets deported, isn’t it?
That was certainly the case for one Donald Trump supporter, who cast her ballot for the Republican last fall but was left in disbelief when a handful of her Syrian relatives – two brothers-in-law, along with their wives and children – were deported after the new president signed a travel ban targeting Muslims and refugees.
According to a report from Public Radio International, the family members of Sarmad Assali, a Syrian American Trump supporter, have valid U.S. visas but were still deported to Damascus, Syria from Philadelphia International Airport.
More from PRI:
Assali says her relatives are now back home in Damascus. But she speculates that if the families had not been quickly hustled back on a flight to Doha, she might have been able to find them legal assistance that would have won them entry rights.
“They weren’t even allowed to make a phone call and let us know what is going on,” she says. “They had to beg the employees to call us, to let us know that they were being returned.”
Assali’s family members were sent back after President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday night banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The ban may be lifted in 120 days or may remain fully or partially in force.
For those who lack empathy and have nothing at stake, it’s incredibly easy to support the discriminatory and reckless policies put forward by Donald Trump and Republicans.
After all, if you have no family members at risk of being deported to the Middle East for no reason, why not support Trump’s ban? If you don’t know a Syrian refugee trying to escape violence, why should you care to let them into the country?
In the most unexpected way, at least one of the president’s supporters is learning that there are actual lives behind his policies – it’s not just tough political talk wrapped in an empty slogan.
This same principle can be applied to other Republican policies, too, like opposing sensible gun laws or marriage equality or a social safety net. Why support such things if you don’t know a gun violence victim or a same-sex couple or someone struggling to feed their family?
The answer from liberals, of course, would be that policies meant to help or protect people – even if they don’t always directly impact our own lives – ultimately create a stronger society and better world. As 2016 popular vote winner Hillary Clinton repeatedly said during the campaign, we are stronger together.
We shouldn’t need our own family member to be deported or gunned down or denied civil rights in order to support policies that prevent such things. Instead of only caring about Trump’s misguided agenda when it affects them, perhaps more of his supporters should consider putting themselves in the shoes of those who are already being impacted – or will be in the near future.
If this Trump supporter – and more like her – considered all of this last November, perhaps this dangerous man wouldn’t be in the White House today.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.