There has been considerable backlash against Donald Trump who recently signed an anti-immigration order that indefinitely denies entry to refugees, and prohibits citizens from seven specific countries from entering the United States. While this is a temporary ban that will be in place for three months, it has left many within the country unsettled, worried and angry. Here’s the thing: the ban is clearly directed at specific Muslim-majority nations, thereby directly denying entry to people who belong to a particular religion.
Banning certain countries goes abrasively against the grain of what defines America: a thriving cultural milieu heaving with immigrants for centuries. In fact, in 1958, the late President of the United States, John F. Kennedy – who was the grandchild of immigrants from Ireland himself – had written, “Every American who has ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants.”
And that’s a fact. America would not be America if it was not populated by those (refugees and immigrants alike) who went on to sculpt the country’s identity. Here’s a list of such people. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough to give you an idea.
Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple
It may come to you as a surprise, but Steve Jobs’ biological father, Abdulfattah Jandalie was a Syrian national who had migrated to the United States. The Seattle Business Insider writes, “Had our current immigration policies been in place at the time, Jandalie would very likely have never received a visa to come to the United States, and Steve Jobs might never have been born (his birth mother was American, and his parents put him up for adoption).” Without Jobs, there wouldn’t have been Apple, and that’s something to think about.
A man whose identity is synonymous with American journalism and press, was in fact a Hungarian. Although the son of a wealthy businessman, by the time his father died, the business went bankrupt. This pushed Pulitzer to make something of his life; he tried to enlist himself in European armies. He was finally recruited by the American army to serve during the American Civil War, which led Pulitzer to arrive at Boston at the young age of 17. Eventually he went on to join the American press and became a newspaper reporter; he spearheaded ‘yellow journalism’ and left a considerable sum of money before his death that founded the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism.
Jerry Yang, Founder of Yahoo
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Yang’s family moved to California when he was eight, for his family feared that Taiwan would be annexed by China. Before arriving to the United States, Yang knew nothing about America or English, except for one word: ‘shoe’. Despite the hardships his family encountered, he went to Stanford, graduated and established the multi-billion dollar search engine company, Yahoo in 1995.
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
Pichai who rose to international prominence when he took over the role of Google’s CEO in August 2015, was born in Tamil Nadu, India. After earning is degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, he moved to the United States to pursue an M.S. Degree at Stanford University and later completed his MBA at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Google thrives in its identity as a multi-cultural hub of techies. Pichai, an immigrant himself, who is critical of Trump’s new order, wrote in an email circulated among the company’s employees stating that the ban will impact the lives of at east 187 employees worldwide.
Indra Nooyi, CEO PepsiCo
Originally from Chennai, India, Nooyi is a graduate from Yale University with a degree in Management. Nooyi struggled extremely hard, scrounging for funds by working late hours into the night as a receptionist. She eventually jointed PepsiCo in 1994 and rose to success by becoming its CEO in 2001. Interestingly, Nooyi recently became a part of Trump’s Business Council, appointed as the only Indian-American to be a part of the 19-member Strategic and Policy Forum headed by Trump – which probably explains why she (unlike Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai) hasn’t spoken out against Trump’s decision to ban refugees and nationals from certain countries.
Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google/President of Alphabet
The man responsible for Google’s self-driving cars and Google Glass belongs to a family that immigrated to the United States from the U.S.S.R back in 1979. Enraged by Trump’s ban on providing visas to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, he told Forbes, “I’m here because I’m a refugee”. Brin currently has a net worth of $24.4 billion.
Jan Koum, Co-Founder of WhatsApp
Koum’s family that migrated from Ukraine to settle in the United States lived through poverty in their newly adopted country. While Koum was growing up, he was forced to live on food stamps like others in his family. Koum went on to build WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook for $19 billion. Koum continues to hold 45 percent stake in the company.
Gene Simmons, KISS
Let’s be honest, KISS would be nothing without vocalist-bassist Gene Simmons, a man with Hungarian parents who was born in Israel. When he was eight-years-old, Simmons moved with his mother to the United States, settling in Queens. Simmons, notorious of his controversial stage performances and as a reality TV star, holds a net worth of $300 million.
Hollywood too, is filled with immigrants who’re doing phenomenal work. In fact, veteran actress Meryl Streep highlighted that significant fact at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony. She said, “Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy and Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and raised in Ireland, I do believe…and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here for playing an Indian boy raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not ‘the Arts’!”
However, while the country is enraged that Trump’s anti-immigration policy is finally coming to fruition, the newly-elected President is taking drastic, extreme measures nonetheless, and frankly there is nothing stopping him. As Trump’s White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway summed it up in her tweet with an eerie finality in her tone herself, “Get used to it. @POTUS is a man of action and impact.”
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