As you might have heard by now, I was one of those affected by the Immigration Ban which took place few weeks ago. My husband, Andy and I were visiting my family in Melbourne, Australia at the time. Since Andy had to leave due to work reasons, the plan for me was to spend more few days with my parents and then go back home to Chicago. Late in the day on Jan. 27, President Trump issued an executive order instituting a travel ban on seven countries. There was no specificity to the order so as advised by my immigration lawyer, I decided to stay put till we get more details on the order. We were hearing all these stories about Green Card holders being detained, some were sent back to the countries of origin and/or were questioned for hours before being let in to the U.S.
I was heartbroken, sad and insulted. Wasn't sure if I could even come back to at least pack my bags. Andy started an amazing campaign to bring me back home and our story got a lot of attention due to the help and support of may friends, specially with the support of my amazing friend Anthony Ponce. He has a podcast called Back Seat Rider which I highly recommend. He shared our story and we got a lot of coverage and managed to raise awareness on this issue. I truly believe by putting a face on the problem, people really could relate more and could see this could happen to any normal couple like us. Every night I was going through all the things I used to do and places I usually go to in Chicago, thinking I might not have the chance to enjoy our life in Chicago. Few days later we got to know that Green Card holders were not included in the ban but still they were being detained for hours on their port of entry to the U.S. Phones and laptops were confiscated, etc. We decided the best for me is to go through Chicago to have access to my lawyer if need be. Therefore, I was booked on my flight from Melbourne to Dubai and then to Chicago (two back to back 15 hours flight). Nothing like being on the plane for that long going through whats going to happen once you land, but thankfully once I landed in Dubai, I got to know that the whole EO was put on hold. Once I landed in Chicago I was sent to another room and the officers asked me few questions and I was out within 20 minutes. Happy but still shaking I got to see my amazing husband and some of our amazing friends. I got a ride back home with my lovely friend Anthony Ponce in his Lyft car and got to experience being a passenger on Back Seat Rider.
I am back now, I am still heartbroken as I am not sure what future holds for me and so many others in similar situation, when will I be able to see my family and where? Banning a whole nation is wrong in so many ways, painting everyone with the same brush is just unacceptable. I am proud of my country, my heritage and I will not let this bigotry and hatred dominate the rich and beautiful culture of my country and its amazing people. I will continue to raise awareness through my art and share the message of Love through Rumi and my pieces, I strongly feel its needed more than ever and that is why I am here now living through this interesting times.
I am grateful for all the support and love we got form everyone as I am sure this is the reason why I was not hassled as much. Our wonderful friends, family from far and near as well as those who became family throughout this time. A big shout out to the amazing people at Moveon.org, and ACLU for all they do. We all need to support them as they are really trying to protect the constitutional rights of those in hard situations, so please donate, volunteer or help them in anyway you can. Our amazing team of lawyers were so supportive I could never thank them enough and of course my amazing husband who showed the world that true love exists and it is not just in fairy tales. LOVE TRUMPS HATE!
Feel Free to read some of the articles on our story. Let's keep on raising awareness to hopefully help those in need of our support.
Chicago Tribune Article
Chicago Tonight - WTTW
DNA Info - Chicago
ABC Melbourne - Australia