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Arab Americans Voice Their Support for Trump’s Immigration Ban

posted on: Feb 8, 2017

Arab Americans Voice Their Support for Trump’s Immigration Ban
Anton Alzein, president of the Syrian Lebanese American Club of Florida, explains why he supports Trump’s immigration ban.

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

Syrian American Trump supporters are sticking to their guns. Across the country, these Arab Americans are speaking up in favor of President Trump and his national security measures.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, Anton Alzein, a Damascus-born immigrant who moved to the U.S. over 15 years ago expressed his support for the temporary ban on Syrian refugees with WPTV. Alzein is the president of a local Syrian and Lebanese American club, and says no one in his club has been affected by the ban.

“When we have peace we don’t need to have refugees. We don’t need to pick any refugees to come here because we won’t have refugees anymore. That’s the reason behind supporting him. Solve your problem, get peace, and stop refugees from going anyplace, anywhere,” Alzein told WPTV.

The Florida resident said he believes President Trump is doing the right thing to protect the border. He said above all, he wants to see peace in his home country, and doesn’t think President Obama did anything to alleviate the crisis.

Agreeing with Alzein is another Arab American immigrant, Nedal Tamer, a resident of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the country’s largest concentration of Arab Americans. Tamer is also a critic of President Obama, who, in his opinion, did nothing to help Arab Muslims during his 8 years in office.

Arab Americans Voice Their Support for Trump’s Immigration Ban
For eight years Arab-American Nedal Tamer has been looking for a change – and he found what he was looking for, in then-presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

Talking to WJBK, Tamer said, “Obama didn’t do anything for me as an Arabic Muslim.” He added, “if you really care about your family in the Middle East, and you care about your relatives, you support President Trump. He has a plan to clean out these terroristic groups.”

The real estate developer believes that the executive orders will help keep him and his family safe because there is currently no guarantee that terrorists are not coming in with refugee groups.

Tamer also questioned the protests taking place across the country. He wondered where these protesters were when Yemen was facing U.S. airstrikes on a daily basis. Tamer said the protestors are using pre-emptive anger and should support their president.

In Allentown, Pennsylvania, Syrian American Christian immigrants share a similar faith in President Trump’s policies. Fouad Younes expressed a hopeful outlook to The Philadelphia Inquirer, saying, “instead of fighting amongst ourselves, let’s give [Trump] a chance. Maybe he’s going to bring jobs back.”

With Younes were other members of Allentown’s expansive Syrian Christian community. They offered their support for President Trump’s policies, too, but not without some criticism.

Arab Americans Voice Their Support for Trump’s Immigration Ban
Restaurant owner Elias Shetayh, who came to Allentown, Pa., in 1971, is pictured behind hookah pipes at his restaurant. Syrians have been immigrating to Allentown for more than a century.

“We would not like to bring refugees for a simple reason: We do not know their background,” said Aziz Wehbey. “We’re concerned about, if God forbid a terrorist attack happened here . . . that we’re all labeled as bad people. I hate to say it.”

However, while the group defended Trump, they agreed that singling out Syrians or Muslims only was not fair. “For Trump to come out and label us as terrorists, it’s not fair to the Syrian people,” Elias Shetayh said. Mouna and Fouad Younes agreed that being suspicious of all Muslim people is wrong: “It is Islamophobic,” Fouad insisted.

The group of Arab Americans also commented on the religious divide between Syrian Muslims and Christians that developed as a result of the civil war. They reminisced about their homeland, and argued that the religious tensions didn’t exist before the last few years. The Allentown residents worry that by welcoming Syrian refugees to their community, the new religious tensions will come with them.

The Syrian immigrants voicing their support for Donald Trump’s policies did not face the same restrictions as those traveling to the U.S. today. Pained by President Obama’s administration and policies towards the Syrian conflict, these Arab Americans are giving their new president a chance to find a solution – for now.