Posted by Guest on February 14, 2017 in Blog

By Basseem Maleki

On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) to coerce sanctuary cities into complying with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. The EO states that “jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law.” President Trump is using federal funds as leverage to pressure sanctuary cities into complying with his potentially unconstitutional executive order. Unfortunately, intimidation is not the only tactic President Trump is employing to enforce this executive order.

The Trump administration has also announced that they will be releasing weekly lists of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. The EO declares that in order “[t]o better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the Secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.”

Simply put, President Trump is shaming sanctuary cities for providing safe havens to undocumented immigrants.  He is saying that these crimes could have been avoided if the sanctuary cities had complied with his executive order. This is problematic for several reasons; namely that President Trump ignores the fact that sanctuary cities actually help combat local crime. Sanctuary cities create an environment that is conducive to cooperation between local police and undocumented immigrants because immigrants are more likely to report crimes if they don’t fear deportation. In addition to the blatant ignorance demonstrated by President Trump’s attempt to shame sanctuary cities, his weekly crimes list paired with his recent Muslim Ban illustrate a systematic portrayal of immigrants as violent criminals.

President Trump has also frequently tried to over represent crimes committed by Muslim immigrants and American Muslims to further his political agenda. The President frequently uses social media to highlight attacks committed by ISIL terrorists. However, following the recent attack on a Quebec mosque in which six people were killed by a Caucasian, non-Muslim Canadian, President Trump’s radio silence speaks volumes. He is creating the illusion that Americans are regularly threatened by Muslim immigrants and American Muslims, which makes his recent EOs on immigration seem necessary for public safety.

Hate crimes towards Arab Americans and American Muslims are already on the rise and President Trump’s list will only exacerbate this trend. Arabs and Muslims are regularly demonized in Hollywood and the mass media but the Trump Administration’s weekly undocumented immigrant crimes list is taking this vilification a step further.  While the mass media and Hollywood often don’t intend to demonize Arabs and Muslims, the Trump administration’s list maliciously targets immigrants by tapping into many Americans’ existing fear of “outsiders.” President Trump has created a list that vilifies specific groups of people, perpetuates harmful stereotypes, and runs the risk of breeding hate crimes.

The current political climate is proving to be increasingly hostile towards immigrants, Arab Americans, American Muslims, and other minorities. It is crucial that all Americans work to combat discrimination and bigotry, which is why AAI recently published its Advocacy Road Map that aims to engage everyone on these pressing issues.

Basseem Maleki is a Spring 2017 Intern with the Arab American Institute