I love these two rejuvenating and patriotic words by the immigration officer at the airport. Welcome home, is Mozart to my ears after a long flight back to the American shores.
This time around things may just be a little different as we return home from Hajj at JFK, New York on September 6th, 2017. As much as I would have liked to take the connecting flight and sleep in my bed a few hours later, I know that may very well not happen.
Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is mandatory for all able Muslims once in their lifetime. This year it falls at the end of August and me and my wife, are planning on going.
The news is that since the Trump administration has taken over and in keeping with his campaign promises, there is extreme vetting of Muslims, among them many well settled everyday Muslim American citizens returning home from overseas trips. This process typically takes several hours, most of which is waiting time after an already long international flight.
As we are going through the planning stages for Hajj, the question in my mind is the following. We arrive at the JFK around noon on September 6th. Should we plan on getting home that night with a connecting flight in a few hours or anticipate extreme vetting and several hours of delay and thus plan on staying another day in New York and coming home on September 7th?
How do you plan for something like this?
That I am in America for the last 25 years. That I am a physician with a busy practice, having jumped through all the hoops of immigration and being vetted several times in the process. That I am part and parcel of the mainstream American fabric and that I am an American citizen. Nothing seemingly matters. For I am a Muslim. For my name is Arif Ahmad.
An optimist at heart, I am a strong believer in destiny and that these testing times would eventually pass. I would, however, conclude by saying that this dangerous precedent of creating layers of citizenship is unconstitutional and never the way to make America great or safe again. If anything this hits us hard at the very core of “We the People.”