Narrowly Escaping the Travel Ban
Jun 28, 2018
The Perennial Plate
Life in Somalia was “unthinkable,” remembers Hussein Mohamud in Daniel Klein and Hunter Johnson’s short documentary, You Are My Sunshine. “It was chaos. People killing each other...[leaving] wasn’t a matter of discussion; it was a matter of survival.”
In the film, Mohamud and his son tell the story of their grueling escape from Somalia and the subsequent 20 years spent in a dangerous refugee camp, 14 years “in process” while applying for asylum in the U.S., and, finally, five years separated until they are reunited in Minnesota. It is a poignant story of resilience.
“Whether you hate Trump or love him, you can't help but empathize with this family's reality,” Klein told The Atlantic. “As the father says in the film, ‘security is the most important thing.’ That's all this family was looking for and I think that is an idea that all Americans can get behind.”
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, which prohibits immigrants and refugees from several predominantly Muslim nations, including Somalia, to enter the United States.
“The travel ban would have stopped the 20-year effort of this family [to be together],” said Klein. “This family's decades-long struggle to get here could have ended yesterday.”
Johnson hopes their film serves to debunk common misconceptions about refugee resettlement in the U.S. “It took this family 25 years to finally be resettled,” he said. “This idea goes against the false narrative that ‘refugees are flooding into the country’ and that ‘they are not being properly vetted.’ In the film, you learn how long and emotional the family’s journey to resettlement was, and some of that was due to the extremely scrutinizing and backlogged U.S. system.”
The number of Muslim refugees admitted to the United States in the first half of the fiscal year of 2018 has dropped from the previous year more than any other religious group, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department data. 1,800 Muslim refugees were granted entry to the U.S., compared with the roughly 22,900 admitted in all of fiscal 2017.
Author: Emily Buder
About This Series
A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.