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When the travel ban was first announced, I was studying abroad in Berlin and preparing to fly to Boston for an undergraduate conference. I’m from Hong Kong, not from any of the banned countries, but emails sent from my American college’s International Student and Scholar Office warning us to minimize unnecessary travels outside of the United States still triggered my worries. I knew that this would not be the last of the changes that...
My father, Benjamin, was born in the midst of a rallying cry for independence: the Indonesian National Revolution had been going on for two years before his birth in 1947 on the island of Java. His family, of half-Indonesian, half-Dutch descent, fled to Holland when he was still a child, but their political fears weren’t to be assuaged in Europe either. His father—who had been interned at a work camp when the Japanese occupied...
My mother still remembers two questions from her 1966 U.S. immigration paperwork (and there was a lot of paperwork): 1) Are you planning to overthrow the American government? 2) Are you planning to work as a prostitute? In case you’re wondering, she answered—honestly—no to both questions. So did my dad. My father first came to the United States in the 1950s to get his master’s degree at Harvard University. He was an Egyptian citizen back then, and went...

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