How Trump Has Taken Away Our Homes

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The New York Times, By MASHA GESSEN and MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: We wrote this together because we have a few things in common. Some are obvious: Both of us came to the United States as teenagers fleeing Communist regimes; both of us are queer. We are also both moved alternately to tears and to rage by the actions of the new American president. One thing that we share is less obvious: This anger and despair make both of us feel as if we are losing our home.

Masha once spent an evening in Berlin with a sociologist and a philosopher trying to define “home.” The three discussants had, among them, lived in more than half a dozen countries and counted themselves native in at least two languages each. Facts like country of birth, length of stay or mother tongue were not applicable. Other descriptors emerged: a sense of safety, a sense of familiarity, a sense of inhabiting space with certainty, a sense, indeed, of the certainty of that space — the opposite feeling of having the rug pulled out from under your feet.

President Trump has introduced fear into our households. Both of us are married to women who are not American citizens (both are Russians who carry green cards), and both of us are raising children some of whom are United States citizens and some not. Most Americans do not realize that a hierarchy of immigrant security exists. Permanent green-card holders are more secure than provisional ones; political asylum or refugee status can be canceled with the stroke of a pen; asylum applicants are the most vulnerable — thousands of people are in the country legally, awaiting an interview or a decision on their application, but their right to remain here can be snatched away for any reason. Many of these people would face violence or even death if they were forced to return to their countries. In this hierarchy, our partners and children are safer than most, but a sense of insecurity has still seeped into our homes — making them feel less like home.  Read more.

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