In Trump administration, Texas immigrants see reminders of countries they fled

Jun 27, 2017

“In how many other countries can you call the top elected official in the country a liar and get away with it?” asked Steve Le, who was 7 years old when he boarded a ship the day before the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Credit Michael Stravato / The New York Times

The New York Times recently spoke with immigrants in Texas who had fled repressive regimes, and many of them noted unsettling similarities between the countries they left and the current administration in Washington.

More than one of the immigrants mentioned the recent cabinet meeting where President Donald Trump had members of his cabinet go around the room, praising him.

A Syrian man, Raji Alatassi, who came to the U.S. 20 years ago, said he was struck by the Middle Eastern vibe of the meeting.

“Just replace the English words with Arabic words, and you have a Syrian cabinet meeting,” he said.

Yohannes Tesfagibir said the cabinet meeting brought to mind his native land, the East African country of Eritrea.

“It’s reminiscent of the one-man show,” he said. “Everyone working for the president instead of working for the country.”

But the African-American added that there was one major difference between the U.S. and Eritrea: “The reason I’m talking to you now is because I’m free.”