September 26, 2017
Update as of October 27, 2017:
On Tuesday, October 24, the Trump administration announced a new 90-day freeze on refugees from 11 countries: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—nine of which are majority Muslim countries. The Muslim-majority countries accounted for nearly 45% of the refugees admitted to the United States in FY2017. Coupled with the new restrictions on visa applicants from eight of these countries announced this week, this latest order bars most of the people and nationalities impacted by Trump’s January 27 travel and refugee ban. This freeze is a “Muslim Ban” by another name and remains as discriminatory and unjustifiable as ever.
Sunday night the Trump administration announced new travel restrictions, which will indefinitely ban the vast majority of people from seven nations – Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen – from entering the United States, and halt entry for certain Venezuelan government officials and their families. These restrictions extend and expand the original “Muslim ban,” which several courts have already declared unconstitutional. They are also a transparent attempt to sidestep legal challenges to the ban as the Supreme Court prepares to hear challenges in Trump v. Int’l Refugee Assistance Project and Trump v. Hawaii.
We are not deceived by superficial changes in policy. The fact that the administration’s restrictions now include a handful of non-Muslim-majority countries does not remove their unlawful character. As Judge Derrick Watson reaffirmed in Hawaii v. Trump: “It is a discriminatory purpose that matters, no matter how inefficient the execution.”
Additionally, it is cold comfort that Sudan has been removed from the list of barred countries. Last week the administration rescinded Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudanese nationals, despite ongoing food insecurity and violence in the country, continuing its pattern of exclusion and nativism against the Sudanese by other means.
Every day the refugee and travel bans remain in effect, this administration denies safety to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, many who have been displaced by U.S. foreign policy. The United States continues to bankroll a Saudi war in Yemen that has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and is reportedly planning a further expansion of unlawful drone strikes in Yemen, Libya, and Somalia – three countries targeted by the ban. For the U.S. government to bar safe travel and refuge to the victims of its military actions is particularly shameful.
Regardless of shape-shifting, the Trump administration’s travel and refugee bans remain as legally and morally indefensible now as before.
Regardless of shape-shifting, the Trump administration’s travel and refugee bans remain as legally and morally indefensible now as before. They are a straightforward violation of the Constitution’s promise of religious freedom and equal protection under the law. Trump’s own words have revealed time and again that his actions are intended to discriminate against Muslims.
UUSC will continue to take action to oppose this and similar Executive Orders, whether by again joining as amici in the litigation or, along with our partners at the Arab American Civic Council and the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, endorsing the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign. Learn more the campaign and get involved at nomuslimbanever.com.