Whether President Trump recognizes it or not, he shows many of the traits of a global citizen.
He has married two foreign-born naturalized Americans, and his son-in-law is the grandson of Holocaust survivors. That is perhaps no surprise for a family that has benefited so richly from the free flow of immigrants into the United States seeking economic opportunity: his grandfather Friedrich came to America in 1885 to escape financial hardship.
The Trump family knows full well what it feels like to be tarred as an immigrant of suspicious intent: for decades they pretended to be a Swedish family to avoid anti-German prejudice, a myth that the President himself perpetuated in his book The Art of the Deal.
In his business career, President Trump has built an international brand around his name, forging partnerships in developing countries across the world. He employs foreign workers to produce his branded goods and enjoys the benefits of global trade to sell them in the United States.
However, after enjoying so many of its benefits, President Trump has come to the wrong conclusion about those international flows of commerce, technology and people. Unlike the younger generations of global citizens, he is slamming the door behind him.
His executive order on visitors, immigrants and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries is a rupture with American and global values, as well as his own family history. It must be reversed if his administration wants to build a meaningful relationship with a millennial generation of citizens at home and overseas.
President Trump’s EO put him on the wrong side of history. Global trade and aid have helped lift more than a billion people out of extreme poverty in the years since The Art of the Deal was published. With America’s leadership, we can fulfill the promise of the UN’s sustainable development goals and free the remaining ~700 million from the prison of extreme poverty in the next 13 years.
Those global goals, universally adopted by more than 190 countries less than two years ago, will never become a reality if we ignore or shut the door on 65 million refugees across the world. American leadership established the Refugee Convention in 1951, just as Fred Trump, the son of a German immigrant, was developing huge new residential properties in Brooklyn and Queens.
Security concerns about refugees are nothing new: these people are, after all, escaping the very worst conditions of conflict, persecution and disaster. But a refugee, regardless of faith and nationality, is a vulnerable human being, not a combatant.
The United States already employs the most stringent vetting and background checks for refugees on the planet. The president’s executive order pretends like those checks don’t exist, while also tarring the citizens of several countries with the accusation of terrorism. For a family that pretended to be Swedish, instead of German, this is surely an injustice that the President can identify with.
Strong countries are open to the world. Weak countries hide behind travel bans and border walls. Now, more than ever, the world needs strong American leadership to help solve its greatest challenges.
At Global Citizen, we believe — along with our 8 million members — that leadership starts with protecting and supporting the world’s most vulnerable people. If we really want to solve the security and migration crises affecting our country, as well as our allies, we all need to create the kind of living conditions where people can prosper at home.
That’s why we’re making the exceptional move of challenging the Trump administration’s discriminatory executive order. And that’s why we’re launching a new campaign called #ThisIsAmerica featuring immigrants and refugees who work hard everyday to make this country truly great.
Global citizens have for generations arrived in these United States seeking economic justice and freedom from want. Those huddled masses raised new generations of scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs, and even presidents. The next generation deserves the same opportunities, and the young voters of the world expect that lamp to stay alight.