As the Trump administration makes a final pitch to the Supreme Court over the ill-fated travel ban, Wyclef Jean’s vision in uniting people is reflected in his actions by an empowering message to immigrants and refugees: America wouldn’t be great without you.
“When it comes to me and the travel ban, I always speak loud and clear in the sense of understanding personally, where I came from and understanding that this is these United States of America and it is the country of immigrants,” he told CNN.
The Trump administration filed a final brief on June 21, urging the Supreme Court to reinstate the president’s travel ban and hear its appeal of a lower court ruling blocking the executive order.
The White House administration has also worked diligently to reinstate the 90-day ban on immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries by keeping them from entering the U.S., arguing that the countries affected by the revised order are at heightened risk for terrorism. The order also temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12, largely upheld a ruling blocking the president’s executive order temporarily restricting travel from six Muslim-majority countries. The decision reviewed a ruling from a Hawaii-based federal judge.
In another ruling, Trump suffered a legal setback, the Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Maryland judge’s ruling blocking Trump’s 90-ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The 4th Circuit Court ruled the ban, which replaced an earlier version of the travel ban, and also blocked by the courts, “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination” aimed at Muslims.
Trump and his administration argued that the measure is necessary to prevent possible terrorist attacks and protect national security. However, courts in previous rulings blocked enforcement of the travel ban, citing past statements from Trump and his advisors signaling that the “travel ban” on its face—targeted Muslims.
From Immigrant to Grammy Award Winning Artist and Musician
Wyclef Jean, Photo Courtesy of: William Ketchem III
Wyclef Jean’s new album “Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee,” is set for release on September 15th via Legacy Recordings. The 12-song set coincides with the 20th anniversary of his debut album, The Carnival.
The Grammy-winning artist and musician addresses racial divisions in America and shares his personal experience as an immigrant from Haiti and his mission to empower others.
‘The Fall and the Rise of a Refugee’
Jean grew up in the Marlboro projects in Brooklyn, where he said the drug and gun culture negatively impacted his community. He rose to fame in the 90’s as part of the hip-hop group the Fugees, along with Lauryn Hill and his cousin Pras Michel.
In the upcoming album, Jean shares his life experience (story) in songs like “Borrowed Time,” “Slums,” and “What Happened to Love,” (produced by The Knocks) with a release date—06-22-17.
“You know me, of course, coming from humble backgrounds, being born in Haiti and having the chance to come to the States at ten years old and basically, turning my entire life around … We can go from nothing and make something out of ourselves,” he said.
Jean threw his hat into the political arena in 2010—running for president of Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged the country. The large-scale earthquake occurred January 12, 2010, on the West Indian island of Hispaniola, comprising the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Most severely affected was Haiti, occupying the western third of the island. The official Haitian death estimates were over 300,000 and initially displaced about 1.5 million.
As of May 22, 2017, Homeland Security granted an additional six-month grace period to Haitians in the U.S., saying the island nation is still not sufficiently recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake to absorb the tens of thousands of people who are here under temporary protected status (TPS).
Some 58,700 Haitians are currently protected from deportation under the TPS designation, many have taken refuge in the United States.
Jean, who was performing in Miami’s “Little Haiti” when the decision was announced said that the extension is a “start,” but urged the Trump administration to institute a “much longer extension” to give Haitians in Haiti “the time to rebuild.”
Trump’s Most Powerful Weapon: Distraction
Jean makes no secret that he backed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. Speaking on Trump, Jean believes that Trump has utilized his most powerful weapon— “the power to distract”—to take the focus off stories that paint him or his administration in a negative light and cast them all as “fake news.”
“Propaganda or the idea of fake news—that’s not a conspiracy theory, that’s not real, but at the end of the day they say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Jean said. “There’s something and the curiosity is getting to what that something is.”
Comparing Trump to Roman Politician Julius Caesar, Jean honed in on Trump’s prolific use of social media and his understanding of how to sway certain media outlets to do his bidding, have allowed him to control the conversation.
“When a Caesar understands how to play the area then he knows how to control everything,” Jean said. “When he’s yelling execute, you’re not paying attention — you’re too busy laughing and roaring at the arena.”
Making an astute observation about Trump, Jean said, “Trump, who is a former reality TV star and entertainer, he is very smart and he understands the power of the media.” “He is using that to his advantage whenever he tweets or whenever he says something that goes viral.”
Through the haze of the political rhetoric and hyperbole spilling over into mainstream media, Jean urged Americans to remain focused on what matters.
“Before you can get to Donald Trump right? And you hit that ballot booth, or you hit that next piece of legislation always remember that you have within your cities, you have councilmen, you have Mayor, you have senators that are going to go to Washington and speak on your behalf. You should be holding those people accountable first.”
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