‘ONE HAPPY STORY’
America Shows Its Best Self to an Iraqi Baby Named ‘Trump’
The way to counter evil is with active, determined goodness.
The Yazidi baby boy named Trump was born the day after the U.S. election in 2016.
HIs parents, Ajeel Muhsin and Flosa Khalaf, decided on the tribute after hearing that the new president was vowing to destroy ISIS, which had attacked their village in Iraq and driven them from their home.
The parents also wanted to express their gratitude to the country that had begun providing medical care to their older son, Dilbireen, who had been severely burned on Jan. 4, 2016—his first birthday—when an exploding heater set fire to his crib in a refugee camp in Iraq.
“America is helping us to do surgery on our boy,” the father was quoted telling a reporter. “We want to show our appreciation to America for what they are doing for our boy.”
The father had obtained a travel visa to accompany the older boy to Boston in October 2016, but the mother had stayed behind even though she had also secured the necessary document. She was seven months pregnant and the prospect of her giving birth while in the United States might have raised suspicions that the family was seeking to have an “anchor baby” along with surgery for their burned child.
Lest you forget, the Obama administration was hardly lax when it came to immigration. That became all the more apparent after Dilbireen had his first series of surgeries at Shriner’s Hospitals for Children to restore the functioning of his mouth and also save his eyesight. Dilbireen had called for his mother after coming out of the anesthesia, but he necessarily remained in America while the father flew back to Iraq to assist Flosa during the impending childbirth. The plan was for them all to be reunited when the father returned to Dilbireen with Flosa and the new baby. The parents then discovered that their travel visas had been canceled. The baby was flatly denied one.
As refugees, the father and mother did not have tax returns or a title to a house or even a street address to establish their intent to return once Dilbireen’s medical care was done. They were busy documenting the particulars of their circumstances in hopes of getting new visas as President Obama was succeeded by the new president after whom they had named their new baby.
On Feb. 5, the family arrived for an appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Irbil to reapply. They were informed that no new visas were being issued for at least three months as a result of an executive order issued by President Trump banning travel from Iraq and six other countries.
For little Dilbireen, the ban meant that he would continue to be separated from his parents. His further surgeries were suspended pending their arrival.
Dilbireen’s cause was immediately taken up by Sally Becker, founder of Road to Peace, the British nonprofit that had helped arrange for the boy’s medical care to begin with. She had been assisted in that initial effort by a Los Angeles filmmaker named Scott LaStaiti and he now joined her in seeking to reunite the family. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also pitched in. So did the U.S. nonprofit House of Peace, which had provided shelter when the father came up with Dilbireen and was now prepared to do so for the whole family if they could secure the necessary visas.
With the added attention of CNN, the combined effort resulted in the parents and the infant named Trump receiving visas.
“A wonderful ending, mother, father, and baby brother arrived at Logan Airport,” Carrie Schuchardt of House of Peace told The Daily Beast this week.
The family stayed for a time at the House of Peace, a unique community in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where adults with special needs assist newly arrived refugees.
“People labeled in need of special care have a right and even a responsibility to give special care,” said Carrie Schuchardt, who is 73 and founded the facility with her lawyer husband, 79-year-old John Schuchardt.
The surgeries resumed and continued to go well. The family has since settled into an apartment in the Boston area.
“It’s one happy story,” Carrie Schuchardt reported. “The whole family is very happy to be together and pursuing a new life.”
But the younger child’s name gained a sudden added irony when the Trump administration began mass separations of children from their parents. The memory of the months Dilbireen was separated from his family accorded a measure of the trauma resulting from just one such case.
“Little did we think it would be multiplied to this degree a year and a half later,” Carrie Schuchardt told The Daily Beast.
She added, “It’s so immoral, it’s so unthinkable. So many people don’t know what to do.”
Happily, a host of decent souls took up the cause of these kids just as she and others had for Dilbireen. Several hundred of the separated youngsters were transported from the southern border to the Cayuga facility in East Harlem, where they passed a framed 4-by-6-foot color photo of the Statue of Liberty in the lobby.
The irony began to all but vanish as true Americans, if not America began to welcome these tiny refugees who were arriving as tired and poor and weary as any who once landed at Ellis Island. The children were met by genuinely caring caseworkers. Lawyers from Catholic Charities interviewed each of them, offering comfort and patiently explaining their rights as best as is possible to a tearful tyke.
“It’s our best self as a country,” Mario Russell, director of Immigration and Refugee Services for Catholic Charities, said to The Daily Beast of his staff and the many others who have rallied to help the separated youngsters.
He further noted, “It says we’re a just society, we’re a caring society.”
This mobilization of what is truly American goes beyond resistance to affirmation. The way to counter evil is with active, determined goodness. It is powered by the secret of our nation’s actual greatness.
“Compassion,” Russell said.
On Thursday, that finest of emotions combined with legal reasoning to prompt federal Judge Dana Sabraw out in California to order that children and parents separated at the border be reunited within 30 days, and within 14 days if the child is under 5.
But just the day before, the steely justices who now comprise the majority on the Supreme Court had upheld President Trump’s travel ban. A future ruling could very well impose similarly chilly logic upon the children who will no doubt continue to seek entry through our southern border in the future. The chances have been greatly increased with Wednesday’s announcement that the generally moderate Justice Kennedy is retiring.
However it goes, affirmation rather than resistance will remain the way to address the decidedly un-American actions of the president named Trump.
Meanwhile, the baby named Trump is reported to be thriving and bringing a smile to all who encounter him.
“He’s very beautiful, a very beautiful child,” Carrie Schuchardt of the House of Hope said. “Very happy.”