Sunday, February 23, 2020

Trump is Coming for their Pencils!

I noticed an article from the New York Times on Friday, January 31st. I was about to teach my US citizenship class to Somali refugees. As I read it, my heart broke. When my translator came in, I gave him my phone and asked him to translate for the class. I was shaking.

The refugees I teach come from E. Africa, which includes Somalia, part of the original Muslim ban, and Tanzania under this new ban. There is no justification for this. It’s discrimination because of race and religion. Saudi Arabians flew those planes into the towers and pentagon. My students are from impoverished African countries, some torn apart by civil war. They have spent a decade, sometimes two, in UN camps. It is common for the camps themselves to come under fire. Before being allowed to come here, my students were pre-cleared in their home countries for settlement in the US. This makes them refugees, entitled to a green card, and not asylum seekers, although both carry a legal status to be in the United States.

My students speak a dialect, Mawa. It is spoken and not written. When they come here and learn English, they may be writing for the first time.

I asked them whether they wanted to talk about the article or learn the lesson. As they saw, I am going through the civics questions of the test faster to get them citizenship faster. Still, many are far away from attaining it.

I assured them when I began teaching that nothing would happen to them because they were green card holders and allowed to be in the United States. Today, February 23, I saw another article about further limiting the benefits they can receive here. Now I can only say I hope it won’t get worse, but they should be prepared.

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