As many of you know, I have an upcoming trip where I am scheduled to visit the United Kingdom, continental Europe, the United States and Canada. This trip was booked in September last year, long before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
Following his election, like many around the world, I have observed closely his actions with every expectation that despite his campaign, once in office, he would respect the sentiment of the American people and uphold a level of international co-operation and not attempt to revoke even the most basic of human rights.
Sadly, since he took office, we have seen executive orders signed that serve to detrimentally impact people in the USA and further afield. Last week, I successfully procured my authority to travel to and enter the United States, however within hours of obtaining that, Donald Trump issued this executive order which prohibits certain people from entering the USA on nothing other than the basis of their nationality. Such discrimination has been illegal in the United States since 1965.
In a quote from the Executive Order, Trump states “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this
country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States
cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would
place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit
those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of
violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their
own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
I believe the very premise of this Executive Order does not support the American Constitution, engages in an act of bigotry, promotes feelings of hate, and despite his statements to the contrary, persecutes those who practice a religion different from that of Trump, and most certainly oppresses people on the basis of race given that is the criteria on which people find themselves denied entry to the USA. Of course I respect the USA’s right (and obligation) to protect its people and border by ensuring that those who visit are of good character, but that is not what this policy achieves – the vast majority of people turned away under this policy will be upstanding citizens of the world.
Despite significant opposition from a large portion of the American population, condemnation of the policy from other countries, American officials and judges, the White House insists that the policy stands, at least for the time-being.
Such a discriminatory policy is at insurmountable odds with my personal beliefs, values and inclusive way of life, and therefore I am unable to avail myself of my right to visit the USA when people from other nations who share the same peaceful beliefs and values as myself are refused entry to the USA on the basis of nationality. I refuse to spend my money in a country whose government believe that this is acceptable practice.
Therefore, in a decision that I have not taken lightly, I have provisionally cancelled my plans to visit the United States in 2017. I would like to be clear that I am not cancelling due to any perceived risk to my safety in the USA – at no time, have I felt that there is an imminent risk to my safety, and I still fully intend to visit all other countries on my trip. Of course, should Donald Trump/others in the government reverse this decision and review his stance on blanket immigration policy in the near future, then I too will also reverse my decision – after all, I do want to visit the USA! However, should that not occur, I will not visit the United States, and the time that I was due in the USA, I will spend extending my visit to Canada – a country that understands its role in the 21st century in a global community.
I do not expect my decision to carry any influence or have any capability to alter Donald Trump’s perspective, but for me as a principled individual – like so many of us around the world (including the USA); it is important to me that I make a stand as an individual to demonstrate my opinion that this is not okay, and is a sad case of history repeating itself. Perhaps if enough people take a similar stand, the message will become even harder to ignore.
I hope to be able to review this decision in light of more sensible legislation from the President of the United States in the near future.