Jordan Rhodes is a sophomore political science and creative writing major and writes "The Chat Room" for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Jordan at email@example.com.
On May 13, 1939, the MS St. Louis docked in Havana, Cuba, having set out from Hamburg, Germany.
They had intended to settle in the United States, fleeing the tyranny of the Third Reich and what they feared and what we know now would be slaughter by the hands of the Schutzstaffel.
The Franklin Roosevelt administration had, at the time, a harsh immigration policy, especially regarding immigrants from Germany, Italy and Japan.
They were fearful of German spies infiltrating our country or wreaking havoc on our citizens.
However, indisputably, about 500 of the roughly 1,000 refugees were returned to Germany and their worst expectations were realized and they were murdered by their own government.
It was cold. It was inhumane. And they could’ve been safe if we’d have let them in.
Maybe you know this story, maybe you don’t, or maybe you just weren’t expecting a “damn history lesson,” but as of Jan. 27 at around 4 p.m., President Donald Trump banned immigration from the nations of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.
Why those countries you may ask? Well we’re all wondering that. We didn’t ban people from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates or Egypt, where the 9/11 hijackers were from.
We didn’t ban immigration from Afghanistan or Pakistan, where al-Qaeda has flourished and where bin Laden had worked and hid.
Maybe we can at least understand Iraq and Syria or Libya: that’s where ISIS is based. We know that. But what good does this do us?
We lower the risk of a patient ISIS agent who was willing to waste months and months of rigorous immigration processing to make a strike they could make quicker and easier using a domestic agent or by simply traveling to our nation.
However, we’ll deny refugees the chance of safety and security because they aren’t “entitled” to it or that they don’t “matter” as much as our citizens. Maybe that’s not you, but I’ve heard plenty of people say it.
Because they were born elsewhere in the world, they are somehow lesser than those born here. They want to become Americans? Too bad. We owe them nothing. Right? Or am I wrong?
People will likely say this is a reasonable safety precaution and that the “liberal media” is inflating the issue just to make Trump look bad. Fact of the matter: this is real.
People are going to die because of this decision.
Innocent children from Syria, mothers and grandmothers from Iraq, and innocent men, elderly or otherwise, will be slaughtered when they return home; just like the Jewish immigrants from 1939.
This ban applies to people here right now in the United States going through the process of immigrating or visiting or what have you. They were held at their respective airports.
You’d think that the courts wouldn’t allow that right? You’d be right. They’re not. And President Trump doesn’t seem to care. He’s completely disregarding the court order and, you know what he did?
He gutted the Justice department, firing the Attorney General of the United States and many, many other employees in what the news is calling the “Monday Night Massacre.”
But you know what ultimately makes this painful for me, personally? One of my best friends from grade school is an Iranian American. His grandparents are in Iran right now.
He turns 20 in a couple weeks and they’re not going to be able to see him. He can’t go there and they can’t come here. The United States government under the strict control of President Trump will not allow it because they may be “terrorists” for all we know, right?
I know many will read this and hammer it for being biased, but this is the real world. You can say you don’t care or that it’s just the way this stuff works, but you’re tearing families apart.
People are scared to come here, but they’re far more scared of what will happen if they return home. The reality of it all is that people will die.
They will and that will be on us for not helping them when they needed it most.
Whether we like it or not, we’re a global community. We’re fellow men and women of all races, ethnicities and nationalities, and you can’t hide behind the fake wall of nationalism and use it to justify turning your back to the poor, huddled masses at our doorstep.
Normally, I’d avoid divisive pieces like this as I know it’ll do nothing more than perpetuate the divide between us and we need unity to survive, but there’s so much at stake here.
I want my friend to see his grandparents, I want that child who dreamt of coming to America to be welcomed, and I just don’t want us to lose part of what makes America great in the first place: immigrants.
Do not let your fear become irrational; it can hurt more than just yourself. Don’t repeat May 13, 1939. Please.