Amid the chaos that followed the recent executive order on immigration, we have learned a valuable and encouraging fact about today’s America: It is already great. And, in a way, we must thank the new president for this realization.
Saying America is already great is not a populist assessment like the one that helped President Donald Trump reach the White House. It is based on the large response of the American public against discriminatory policies that ignore the core values of this country.
I will avoid a discussion of the executive decision itself, however misguided and poorly enacted it might be. Instead, I prefer to focus on the positive effect that the immigration ban has had in awakening the tolerance and solidarity inside many of us.
Over the course of the week, we have experienced the prompt rejection of the ignorant and intolerant assumptions behind the immigration ban in a broad portion of the American public.
We have seen U.S. citizens reaching out to assist, support and protest in favor of the immigrants affected by the presidential order.
It was especially moving to hear about the demonstrations in Detroit Metropolitan Airport, where protesters gave away their signs for a group of Muslim activists to use as praying mats.
Although this was just a small gesture, it represented the fundamental beliefs of a country that was built by immigrants. It showed how individuals from different backgrounds, religions and races can unite for the common goals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Not surprisingly, airports have become the ideal place to protest the recent travel restrictions. The arrival and detention of immigrants from majority-Muslim countries in airports all across America provided an opportunity for protesters to show the world that the president’s actions do not represent the beliefs of many U.S. citizens.
However, support for the affected immigrant community did not only arise from protestors in the street. Many lawyers, judges and even the acting U.S. attorney general spoke out against the ban and challenged its legality. This is a remarkable display of the strength of American democracy that many other countries should admire.
Like many institutions around the country, our university community also spoke to its immigrant community and extended its support to international students. Just like the response from the judicial system and the public opinion, this was an admirable example of the integrity of American values.
I am aware that there is also a strong support for the recent restrictions in immigration. After all, border security is a legitimate concern for any country. However, the most enduring consequence from this executive order will not be its arbitrary bans. What will be remembered is the support and the unity of U.S. citizens and immigrants of different races and religions. What will be remembered is the greatness of America.
Francisco Hernandez is a junior international studies major from Valencia, Spain.