In Trump’s Executive Order, Foundation For A Muslim Ban Has Been Set

By Kevin Gosztola, Shadowproof, January 28, 2017“Donald Trump is plunging the lives of first and
second generation Americans into disarray and uncertainty.”
President Donald Trump signs an executive order on ‘extreme vetting’ during
an event at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (AP/Susan Walsh)
(ANALYSIS) — President Donald Trump signed an
executive order that effectively lays a strong foundation for instituting a ban
against Muslims, as he pledged to do during his presidential campaign.
The executive order asserts hundreds of foreign-born
individuals convicted or implicated in “terrorist-related crimes” since the
September 11 attacks, which is a gross exaggeration.
As in-depth coverage by the New
America Foundation showed, “The large majority of jihadist terrorists in the
United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover,
while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who
conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or
legal resident.”
“In addition, about a quarter of
the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be
reduced to one of immigration,” according to the think tank.
Nevertheless, Trump provided a
victory for toxic xenophobic and Islamophobic forces in the United States and
issued an executive order that suspends entry into the country of any
immigrants or non-immigrants of particular concern.
The countries are not named in
the issued executive order, but the draft included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia,
Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. These are Muslim-majority countries, many of which the
U.S. has played a role in destabilizing or perpetuating warfare that has
created refugee crises.
Syrian refugees are explicitly
banned, even though they do not present an existential terrorism threat to the
U.S. at all.
It instructs security agencies of
the U.S. government to put together a list and add additional countries. This
means the list adopted a few months from now may expand at any time.
The order calls for security
agencies to develop a “uniform screening” program that would include “a process
to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing
member of society and the applicants’ ability to make contributions to the
national interest.”
It lowers the number of refugees
that will be admitted in 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000 refugees.
Additionally, agencies are
instructed to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of
religious-based persecution provided that the religion of the individual is a
minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”
Farhana Khera, president and
executive director of Muslim Advocates, called the order a “first step on the
road to the Muslim ban the president promoted during the campaign.”
“It relies on grotesque and
bigoted stereotypes about Muslims and Islam perpetuated by hate groups,” Khera
added. “This bigotry will now be elevated to the level of official U.S.
government policy.”
“We are deeply concerned that
Muslim visitors and immigrants, and only Muslim visitors and immigrants, will
be singled out and asked, for example, whether they harbor bigotry against LGBT
communities or faith communities that are not their own; repugnant views, but a
test unfortunately even many Americans would fail,” Khera contended.
“Donald Trump is plunging the
lives of first and second generation Americans into disarray and uncertainty,”
the National Iranian American Council stated. “We have heard from countless
Iranian Americans whose lives are going to be upended by this action. We have
talked to parents who will be prevented from reuniting with their young
children, students who will not be able to return from conferences abroad, and
spouses who will be held in limbo away from their loved ones.”
Melanie Nezer, vice president for
policy and advocacy of HIAS, which was founded in response to the exodus of
Jewish emigrants from Russia in the late 19th and 20th centuries, emphasized
the fact that Trump signed the order on International Holocaust Remembrance
During World War II, the United
States turned back the
S.S. St. Louis, a boat of refugees which sought safety from Nazi persecution.
They wanted to reach Cuba and then travel to the U.S., however, they were
turned away and forced to return to Europe. At least 250 of those Jewish
refugees were killed by Nazis, and the boat was turned away for many of the
same xenophobic reasons articulated by Trump in his order.
Nezer pointed out the world is
experiencing one of the worst global refugee crises in history, with at least
65 million people displaced from their homes. It is a bigger refugee crisis
than after World War II. What Trump has done will make the crisis worse.
James Zogby, the president of the
Arab American Institute, condemned the section of the order that prioritizes
Christian refugees over Muslim refugees. It is a policy of “prejudice and fear”
intended to dramatically alter U.S. immigration law and to dramatically
transform the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
“It is bigotry in its worst
form,” Zogby declared. “I am an Arab American Christian. I resent my religion
being privileged over that of Muslims, and I can tell you having spoken with
religious leadership in the Middle East, they are deeply resentful and fearful
of this because it will put them at risk in the countries they currently live.”
“We do not want to see Donald
Trump favoring Christians. It will hurt them and put them in a dangerous
position,” Zogby added. “People like Ted Cruz and Senator [Jeff] Sessions and
Donald Trump are not the advocates for Christians in the Middle East. They do
not need their advocacy. What they need is to be treated as equal citizens in
the states where they are and they have relationships with Muslims in those
states working toward that end. This will harm them rather than help them.”
The executive order takes the
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to a whole other level, said Shoba
Sivaprasad Wadhia, the director for the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at
Penn State Law.
Wadhia reminded, “In the wake of
9/11, special registration or the NSEERs program began at ports of entry and
targeted visitors from certain countries. The program was a disaster. It
provided no security value, overwhelmed the government, and had the purpose and
negative effect of singling out people based on their religion.
The Trump administration, blind
by their prejudice and fears, do not seem to care about the evidence that the
National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERs, failed.
NSEER required “non-citizens to register when they entered the
U.S., a process that included fingerprinting, photo taking, and interrogation,
according to a CNN summary. It required a regular check-in with immigration
officials as well as the deportation of any violators. It explicitly impacted
Arabs and Muslims. President Barack Obama officially ended this program in December.
Neema Hakim, spokesman for the
Homeland Security Department, called the NSEER program “obsolete” and said “its
use would divert limited personnel and resources from more effective measures.”
Men and boys from twenty
countries were expected to register, but they were never prohibited from
traveling to the United States. Trump has taken the framework of NSEER and
recreated it in mutant form.
Fahd Ahmed, the executive
director of DRUM, suggested the order will escalate the demonization of
immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. It will “serve as a justification for
the implementation of forthcoming such as registrations, raids,
detentions, and deportations of immigrants and refugees from Central America
and beyond.”
It also will have the effect of
making Muslim and refugee communities more vulnerable to hate crimes.
Jen Smyers of the Church World
Services Immigration and Refugee Program highlighted the story of an Iraqi
refugee family, which has two twin 18 year-old daughters in Iraq. They experienced
processing delays and have not been allowed to join their family in the U.S.
They are separated. The order may mean they are unable to reunite with family
for months.
There are a number of refugees,
who are scheduled to arrive in the U.S. on Monday. This order disrupts a
vetting process that started for some individuals more than a year ago. They
will not find safety in America because of Trump’s order.
An earlier draft contained a
section for the creation of “safe zones” for refugees in and around Syria.
According to Zogby, this would have committed tens of thousands of U.S. troops
to maintain these zones and likely drawn the U.S. deep into a ground war in
Syria. The administration removed this section before it was signed.
Toward the end of the executive
order, there is a part requiring transparency on the number of “foreign
nationals” charged with terrorism-related offenses, the number of “foreign
nationals” who are “radicalized” after entry, and the number of types of acts
of “gender-based violence against women, including honor killings by foreign
This is a grotesque product of
anti-Islam racism, and this so-called transparency will be the propaganda that
Trump uses to justify and indoctrinate American citizens into supporting his
immigration and refugee bans against Muslims of the world.