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Friday, January 27, 2017

To Relinquish

Sitting in my room that refuses to heat above 62 even though I've set the thermostat to 80, after a somewhat consoling breakfast of dried out khabaz (thin pita-like Arabic bread) and hummus, I was scrolling through my FB friends' feed when I came across a link for God Bless the USA. My all-time favourite song, I hit the link so I could hear Lee Greenwood sing the familiar tune. Until the phrases started to sink in. cuz the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away. . .where at least I know I'm free. . .

The debate that's swirling around Trump's latest executive order to halt processing of immigrants from specific countries is one that is tempered by emotion, the new president of the USA not-withstanding. Opinion pieces, statistics, and the voices of those who will be affected by it are everywhere I look. I am an immigrant and I understand the anxiety of those who were expecting to experience freedom, from war, from fear, from uncertainty and more. I battle against the unfairness that a few radicals can influence the fate of thousands of innocent ones. The ignorant often seem to control the future and it's hard to hold on to hope or believe God really is orchestrating events behind what we can see.

I am an immigrant, yes, but I am one who has the dual privilege of standing between countries. I already hold citizenship in two European countries where, though I have not lived since a child, I can return to easily should I desire to pick up my life and leave. Presently, I live in the Middle East where my heart has found its home but simultaneously I struggle to reconcile a possible need to acquire citizenship of the country that symbolizes freedom to some but not all. If I want to stay here, ironically in a country that is close enough to the ones on the current blacklist, I have to either give up my rights to a long-term future in the US or become a citizen that promises to uphold values that stand diametrically opposed to mine in regards to family, social justice, moral ethics, and more.

The person who wrote God Bless the USA had likely never stepped outside its borders and I do not blame them for their perception of freedom. We each understand the concept based on our personal experience and I lack another layer of perception because my passports have allowed me to enter many countries with little hassle. But to choose that song, iconic though it is, to celebrate the new presidential reign is one that raises every hackle and rallies every cell of determination to ensure that people know this is not so. Yes, America was built by immigrants but whether they will be denied entry, as doubtless many will be in the coming years, or whether they will choose to relinquish their rights because they cannot uphold its insistent ignorance, the immigrants may soon be realizing that it is no longer the land of the free or the home of the brave.

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