Ishay Govender-Ympa, a freelance travel and culture journalist, a former lawyer and always knows where to eat in any city. Here I speak about what it is like to travel in the time of Trump and why I protested in New York. Written for Marie Claire, 2 February 2017.
I arrived in New York City, via John F Kennedy airport on 28 January 2017 around 11AM. Unbeknown to me, at almost the same moment, President Donald Trump issued a ban on all refugees coming into the United States for the next four months, suspending the current programme, and banned all citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for the next three months. Later, CNN reported that
this would potentially affect an estimated 218 million people. When I arrived in New York, customs officials questioned if I’d been to Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria or Sudan and I thought better of saying anything chipper. “I am so keen to travel to Iran. So many writers I know have loved the people and country,” would have been my response to anyone else asking. I was also questioned about where I live and where, precisely, Cape Town is located. This line of questioning was different to my previous experiences and the last time I was in the city was a mere six months ago.
In a cab on the way to Midtown, I’d learn that an executive order was made, barring even green card and valid visa holders, including academics, students, researchers and official state translators from entering the United States. Those who were abroad were left in limbo; a reported 150 or so were denied entry onto flights entering the U.S and at least a dozen people were held in detention at various airports for more than 10 hours, in some cases. American…