BY SAMAN SALAHUDDIN
Just one week into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order that barred the entry of nearly all refugees for 120 days and that halted the entry of visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. In response to the ban, chaos erupted in airports all across the country. Hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded terminals from JFK to LAX, and thousands of travelers, including US citizens and permanent residents, were detained inside closed rooms. After widespread fallout, US District Court Judge James Robart blocked the ban nationwide. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Robart’s decision in a unanimous decision.
Currently the ban is blocked nationwide, and the White House is struggling to find ways to proceed. It is still unclear whether the administration will appeal to the Supreme Court, considering that the four-four split will most likely result in inaction. In addition, a Supreme Court hearing will include a debate on the constitutionality of the order, and there is justifiable reason to believe that the ban is unconstitutional. First, the order raises serious discrimination concerns in regards to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution. Second, the order clearly violates certain US laws, one of which, 8 U.S. Code § 1152, states that “ no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” Finally, the order also threatens the first amendment, since it explicitly “asks the secretary of homeland security to “prioritize refugee claims” by members of a ‘minority religion; in a given country,” according to an article on Slate. Trump essentially wants to allow Christian refugees to stay in America but to ban Muslim refugees, the largest group fleeing terror. The administration still has some tools under its belt to restore the ban. Trump still can petition the entire Ninth Circuit to overturn the three-judge panel’s original decision. However, since nearly two-thirds of the appeals court was nominated by democratic presidents, Trump may not have the best odds in this course of action. The administration could alternatively continue fighting within the district courts or rewrite the order entirely.
Regardless of what happens next, Trump’s war on Islam has far-reaching consequences on the values of American society and the security of our nation. Throughout his campaign, Trump promised his supporters that he would instate a Muslim ban when in office; in fact, his entire campaign was filled with islamophobic rhetoric that was eagerly lauded by his supporters. By winning the presidency and almost immediately implementing the ban, Trump has emboldened the islamophobic views of many of his supporters. Just days after the ban was implemented, a man went into a mosque in Quebec City and killed six innocent people. Trump never even mentioned the terror attack, which is not surprising considering that the terrorist in this case does not fit into his definition of terrorism. The President has failed to recognize that once he took the oath of office, he became the president of all Americans, including Muslim Americans. By completely disregarding their plight and their fears, he is failing to do his job as the leader of this country. According to an article on The Atlantic, “Making American Muslims less safe… will make all Americans less safe. Violence begets violence—an old, simple, and still-valid concept.”
Irrespective of a person’s views on religion or refugees, this ban should be of extreme concern because it legitimizes a terrorist’s perspective of the West against Islam. Thus, Trump’s travel ban becomes fodder for ISIS propaganda and recruitment. According to an article on The Atlantic, “If it angers Muslims, if it fuels anti-Muslim rhetoric, if it serves as an easy rallying point, ISIS will use it. ISIS supporters are also using the hashtag #muslimban and #refugeecrisis, to direct traffic a pro-ISIS site, where readers can find a picture of a Syrian family detained at Dulles airport.” In order to win this war on terror we must fight as a cohesive and united front. Trump seems to forget that the forces on the ground fighting ISIS such as the Iraqis and the Kurds are Muslims and that the people dying each day by ISIS are Muslims . Alienating our Muslim allies will only hurt our ultimate goal to eradicate terrorism. The president also has a responsibility to address homegrown terrorism, considering that many of the perpetrators of recent terror attacks on Muslim soil were either US-born citizens or had lived in this country for years. According to the same article on The Atlantic, “whatever an individual’s particular circumstances, the most powerful push toward radicalization is a sense of injustice, humiliation, or betrayal—precisely the situation this ban sets up.” No matter what the White House claims, this ban does not help combat terrorism.
Trump’s travel ban questions the very fabric of who we are as Americans and how want our country to progress. Are we a nation that will close our doors to those fleeing war, during the largest refugee crisis since WWII? Will we fight for religious freedom, a right our ancestors moved across the globe? Or will we repeat our mistakes, even though we know that our country closed its doors to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and barred up Japanese Americans in internment camps not too many years ago? For the sake of progress, democracy, humanity and all that is good in the world, I hope not.