Dear President Trump,
Over the course of the last several months, I have followed your campaign and watched your many debates. Unfortunately, I could not vote for you because I was alarmed by xenophobia and ethno-nationalism that undergirded your promise to build a “security wall” along the U.S.-Mexican border and pursue a “ban on Muslims.” While you did not outline the specifics of these promises, the measures you have swiftly taken over the course of your first few days as President of the United States indicate your resolve.
Today, I write to ask: how do you want to be remembered? Do you want history books to describe your administration as one that criminalized vulnerable refugees? Do you want future generations of Americans to study you as a figure among the ranks of George Wallace and David Duke? Or, do you want something better for yourself and for America?
You are still in the very early stages of your administration and you are well-positioned to pursue an entirely different course of action. Refugees entering the United States not only undergo an extensive vetting process, they are also largely comprised of families who want nothing more than the opportunity to live in a safe and welcoming environment. I know firsthand because my family and I came to the United States as refugees from Iraq. We would not be alive today were it not for the United States.
Rather than turning refugees away, you can welcome those who most need our support and who will contribute to our nation in invaluable ways. Rather than appointing inflammatory figures to top posts in your office, you can seek the counsel of respected and level-headed policymakers, scholars, and community leaders. Instead of leveraging Islamophobia and racism to score political points, you can set a better example for the entire nation by unequivocally rejecting the wave of hate crimes targeting Muslims, immigrants, and people of color.
In place of an ineffective “national security wall,” you can invest in compassionate immigration reform, American public schools, healthcare, and infrastructure.
It is not too late. So, Mr. President, I ask you again: how do you want to be remembered? As a leader who overcame partisan polarization and made prudent, just, and compassionate policy choices? Or, as a politician who exploited racial, economic, and religious divides to win at the polls?