Jasmin Samy tries not to use her cell phone in front of her kids. Yesterday, she was checking every few seconds.
She’d canceled meetings and gone home from her office at the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Washington State (CAIR-WA), where she is the civil rights manager, to take care of her sick three-year-old daughter. Samy was waiting to hear whether the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would uphold the temporary restraining order on Trump’s travel ban.
“You know the feeling,” she says. “Like when you are at university and you know you are going to fail, but you still want to know. It’s like, ‘Just tell me if I’m going to fail.’”
This one wasn’t a failure. The good news came in around 3:30pm.
Her first thought: “Thank God.”
Since the orders came down on January 27 halting the U.S. refugee program and barring citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries, life has been a nonstop frenzy for those working to ensure the safe return of people affected.
At the civil rights department of CAIR-WA, there are two full time employees and one volunteer who comes in twice a week. They've worked around the clock: channeling the influx of emails and calls, connecting families with attorneys, issuing travel cautions, educating and answering questions, organizing events, and spreading info at most crucial moments (e.g., if you are expecting a family member from one of these countries who doesn’t walk out of the airport within a couple hours of their landing time, give us a call. Or, once Seattle judge James Robart suspended the ban, get your butt on a plane and come back now, please.)
CAIR-WA hosted a #MuslimBan public forum last week at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, so community members could ask questions about the ban, and attorneys conducted nearly 50 private consultations. A video of the forum has gotten nearly 1,700 views.
Samy has been inspired by the energy that’s erupted out of the chaos. Seattle’s organizations and individuals mobilized rapidly, from the attorneys who showed up at Sea-Tac to help those detained, to a pregnant volunteer who stood at the public forum for hours to help register visitors, to tech solutions that cropped up over the weekend to connect immigrants and attorneys.
“I’d want to say emotionally, it’s been a lot, but because of all the work we’re doing, it still hasn’t sunk in,” Samy says. “I think I’ll look at this in a month or two and be like, ‘Oh my God, what happened? Everyone is just working, working, working.”
Samy says as she waited for news from the court yesterday, she had prepared for either decision. That said, it was welcome respite.
“For one day, I can breathe a little bit normally,” she says.
But the restraining order is temporary, and the work will go on. Within minutes she was back to posting on social media and sending emails. She and others in her line of work expect the case to climb to the Supreme Court. They are ready and on board, she says.
Samy has barely had time to see her kids in the last two weeks; she sheepishly admitted that she was grateful for Seattle’s recent snow day. She laughs and says classmates at her nine-year-old son’s school have been asking him what’s happening with the ban, because they know about her work. He told her, “They asked me to talk about the executive order.”
“Mommy is doing a lot of presentations.”