Donald Trump has signed Executive Orders that has bans on allowing entry to Muslims from seven countries, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, ostensibly to reduce the threat of terrorism. This has had an immediate effect with people being stopped at airports, even if they were returning from trips abroad.
Although Trump administration officials continue to insist the president’s actions are not targeted at any one faith, the text of the order made explicit that, when the 120-day suspension ended, the US government would prioritize religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.
It states: “Upon the resumption of USRAP [US Refugee Admissions Program] admissions, the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, 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.”
In other words, the US would accept Christian refugees from those countries while keeping out Muslim ones. Trump is thus feeding into the claims by Christians in the US that it is Christians who are the persecuted community in both the US and the world. These groups seem to be under the impression that not being able to impose their views on everyone else is the same as being persecuted for their beliefs.
As observers quickly noted, this Trump move targets the people who are the most deserving of refugee status. As Zaid Jilani writes:
What all seven countries also have in common is that the United States government has violently intervened in them. The U.S. is currently bombing — or has bombed in the recent past — six of them. The U.S. has not bombed Iran, but has a long history of intervention including a recent cyberattack.
It’s like a twisted version of the you-break-it-you-buy-it Pottery Barn rule: If we bomb a country or help destabilize its society, we will then ban its citizens from being able to seek refuge in the United States.
As Glenn Greenwald writes:
IT IS NOT DIFFICULT for any decent human being to immediately apprehend why and how Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries is inhumane, bigoted, and shameful.
The sole ostensible rationale for this ban – it is necessary to keep out Muslim extremists – collapses upon the most minimal scrutiny. The countries which have produced and supported the greatest number of anti-U.S. terrorists – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, UAE – are excluded from the ban list because the tyrannical regimes that run those countries are close U.S. allies.
Conversely, the countries that are included – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Sudan and Yemen – have produced virtually no such terrorists; as the Cato Institute documented on Friday night: “Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.” Indeed, as of a 2015 study by the New America research center, deaths caused by terrorism from right-wing nationalists since 9/11 have significantly exceeded those from Muslim extremists.
Trump’s pledge last night to a Christian broadcasting network to prioritize Christian refugees over all others is just profane: the very idea of determining who merits refuge on the basis of religious belief is bigotry in its purest sense. Beyond the morality, it is almost also certainly unconstitutional in a country predicated on the “free exercise of religion.” In the New York Times this morning, Cato analyst David Bier also convincingly argues that the policy is illegal on statutory grounds as well.
The blatantly discriminatory nature of the ban has alarmed even some groups sympathetic to Trump, like the National Association of Evangelicals.
In what appears to be a recognition of the drastic changes at hand, the National Association of Evangelicals issued a statement today calling on Trump to continue accepting refugees fleeing wars in the Middle East. “News reports that the Trump administration plans to make severe cuts to the admission of refugees based on their religion or national origin are alarming,” the NAE said. “We call on President Trump to declare his support for the continuation of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which is critical at a time when the world faces a significant refugee crisis.”
Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy organization, said that the proposed executive order would, “elevate the most bigoted stereotypes of Muslims and Islam perpetuated by anti-Muslim hate groups to the level of U.S. government policy.”
What we are witnessing is Trump taking steps to appease the anti-Muslim bigots who were strong supporters of him. This will only embolden those hate groups in the US who have declared open season on Muslims, since this seem to legitimize and give official sanction to their discriminatory views.