In this op-ed for the New York Times, writer Wajahat Ali talks about the personal effects of the recent Travel Ban rulings. Last week, the Supreme Court temporarily reinstated the ban, targeting citizens in six Muslim majority countries, but stated that those who had a “bona fide relationship” with a “person or entity” in the United States — including “close family members” — could be granted exceptions and allowed to enter. Ali reports that “the State Department sent shock waves through immigrant communities with their incomprehensible interpretation that uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, brothers, and sisters-in-law, grandchildren and grandparents were not [bona fide relationships].” On July 13th, the Federal District Court in Honolulu broadened the list of accepted relatives to include grandparents.
In this powerful piece, Ali talks about his own grandparents and the importance of family:
“Like Donald Trump’s grandfather, my grandfather was an immigrant. Born in India, he moved to Karachi, Pakistan, with his wife and young children in 1952. In 1973, when my father, who’d already immigrated to the United States as a college student, was sick with Hodgkin’s disease, my grandmother and grandfather showed up in Chicago to care for him. They made America their new home, embracing bell bottoms and developing passions for Tom Jones and American westerns.
After my parents married in a ceremony in Pakistan, my mom immigrated here as well. Along with several of my aunts and uncles, they eventually moved to California. The entire family — along with baby me, born in 1980 — packed into a tiny apartment. My grandfather advised my father as he worked to start a business. My grandmother ran the kitchen with the discipline of a drill sergeant and the wisdom of, well, a grandmother. She taught my mother and aunts how to cook amazing Pakistani meals for two dozen people on a moment’s notice. Everyone pitched in to care for me, a team of in-house, bonus caregivers and companions whose value I appreciate even more now that I’m a father myself.
We were a bona fide family.”