Lakers forward Luol Deng was born in what is now South Sudan, and had to flee the country during the Second Sudanese Civil War. He and his family became refugees in Egypt, where they waited for five years before being allowed to emigrate to the United Kingdom. After last night’s game against the Nuggets, Deng shared his feelings about Donald Trump banning immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority from entering the United States:
Deng’s entire interview is worth watching, but here is the heart of it:
A lot of [refugees] go through a lot of things that they have no control of. To really see a light at the end of the tunnel and to go toward that light and then that light is turned off is very difficult, not just individually, but for the family.
I remember when I was a kid, as a refugee in Egypt, every day, there was always a hope that we’d get to leave tomorrow and we’d get to go somewhere. You never knew where, but we just wanted somewhere where we could have an opportunity to make something out of it. That opportunity came five years later. Now, I’m thankful for growing up in Egypt, and I’ve learned a lot, but at the same time, I know what it feels like to wait for that opportunity to come every day.
It’s hard to reckon the hysteria the Trump administration and so many Americans feel over refugees arriving in our country with Deng’s account of what it actually means to be a refugee. Imagine a horde of potential terrorists freely streaming into our country if you want to, but the reality is that most refugees are people just like Luol Deng. People who don’t want to die senselessly in their home countries, people who are willing to give up everything they have and spend years being vetted while they wait and hope for a shot at a normal life.