Two Years of Muslim Ban 3.0

Posted by Ryan J. Suto on September 24, 2019 at 8:37 AM

On January 27, 2017, the Trump presidency had turned one week old. For many Americans, the controversies of the presidential campaign, which had ended months before, were replaced by arguments over crowd size. But for a candidate who sought "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," on that idle Friday, the past had become prologue. Executive Order 13769, the Muslim Ban 1.0, was signed. It was only the twelfth action of the Trump presidency. With hate and with haste, the president embarked on a path that has defined his administration ever since: nativist motivations, poor statecraft, copious litigation, crises of choice, and punishment for the marginalized. Over the next eight months, President Trump oromulgated, defended, and abandoned Muslim Bans 1.0 and 2.0, landing on Muslim Ban 3.0Presidential Proclamation 9645two years ago today. In December of that year, the Supreme Court allowed the Ban to take effect. 

In addition to banning most nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea from entering the U.S. (along with some officials of Venezuela) under the Muslim Ban 3.0, over the past 32 months, the Trump administration has made refugee resettlement all but impossible; hardened the asylum process at the U.S. border, with no regard to individual circustances or international law; made the visa application and approval process much more difficult; eroded all pretense of due process from immigration court proceedings; began enforcing immigration law at sensitive locations, such as courthouses, schools, and hospitals--largely continued the deportations and immigrations raids of the Obama administration; began probing the social media presence of any foreign national seeking entry into the U.S.; and of course, has created concentration camps of separated migrant families along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

While one could hardly imagine a more aggressive attack on migrants and migrant communities, this is not nearly a full account. This administration has taken hundreds of actions limiting U.S. humanitarian programs, increasing detentions and enforcement, undermining the administration of justice, limiting the legal employment of immigrants, and making visits to the United States all the more difficult. And like the Muslim Ban, many of these actions have led to litigation, created unnecesary victims, and will make the United States worse as a country. In the end, this administration is happy to weaponize the law to make migrant communities suffer, and, when necessary, is equally happy to circumvent it to reach the same result. There can only be one interpretation of the administration’s immigration goal: to freeze America’s current ethnic, racial, and religious makeup, ensuring no one from “shithole countries,” or other non-European origins, steps foot on American soil. 

A result of this goalby way of the administration’s immigration policies and the means used to achieve itis immeasurable damage on individuals and families. We do know that only 6% of Muslim Ban waiver applicantshave been granted access to the U.S., yet we cannot know how many were dissuaded from even applying. We know that at least 24 migrants have died in ICE custodyduring this administration. But we do not know how many children will suffer long-term trauma from being separated from their families and detained for long periods of time. We know the story of how Jimmy Aldaoud died shortly after being deported to a country he had never been to before, but reports can only estimate that hundreds of migrants denied asylum by this administration have likely been killed after being turned away by U.S. officials. We will never know how many have lost hope and have simply given up trying to seek a safer, more secure future in the United States, or the lives they could have led here. 

But the full story has not yet been written. Policies can be changed and lives can be saved. Congress must exercise oversight and pass legislation to limit the cruel and capricious nature of Trump’s immigration policies, including the Muslim Ban. While the drafters of the Constitution may have envisioned a malicious leader occupying the presidency, they surely did not envision a Congress unwilling to act, content with being a silent accomplice to crimes against humanity

As for the Muslim Ban, today marks a crucial step toward that desperately needed oversight. As the second anniversary of the Muslim Ban 3.0, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii, today will see the first Congressional hearing on that policy. The call to action should be clear: to pass the NO BAN Act, legislation carefully crafted to rescind the Muslim, Refugee, and Aslyum Bans and ensure that no future president could enact such discriminatory policies. The bill currently has 34 cosponsors in the Senate and 165 in the House of Representatives, which means that 11 Senate and 70 House Democrats have not yet signalled support. And while some have branded themselves “compassionate conservatives,” you will not find a Republican co-sponsoring the NO BAN Act. Because not one of the 251 Congressional Republicans have yet to support ending the Muslim Ban.

In 2019, it should not be courageous to denounce discrimination and cruelty. In 2019, standing for immigration policy carried out as Congress intended, and as international law and minimum standards of human decency requires, should not be a minority position on Capitol Hill. But without confronting and addressing the nativist assault on migrants which began in 2017, our politics will continue to fail those who have already been failed before.