I’m a US citizen. I’m also Muslim. And the Supreme Court decision on the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban scares me.
In a June 26 ruling, the court decided to leave in place parts of the Muslim ban while the merits of the case are debated, effectively barring individuals from six Muslim-majority countries without a “bona fide” relationship in the US — say, with family members, an employer, or an educational institution — into the country. This decision may also prevent entry for all refugees for 120 days.
The ruling has been hailed as a victory for the Trump administration — not just on the legal end, but also in the degree to which it instills fear in Muslims. The fear is real, and not just for those who may be directly impacted, but for the larger community, too. After all, what the travel ban is ultimately meant to do is to hold all Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of a (miniscule) few.
As a Muslim American of Egyptian descent, will I be legally impacted by the decision? In theory, no. But will I think twice about leaving the country, knowing that I could return to the possibility of being harassed, interrogated, and/or denied entry back into the US? Absolutely. Because after almost 16 years of the war on terror, you come to learn — or become conditioned to fear — that one day you could be next.
The distinction between citizen and non-citizen becomes ever more perilous when you “look Muslim,” have a Muslim sounding name, or work on issues relating to Muslims. This doesn’t mean I’ll experience the same consequences as Muslim non-citizens, but neither does my citizenship reassure me that my fellow Muslim Americans and I will be protected, especially in light of this administration’s history over the last few months alone.