One year after SCOTUS ruled in favor of the Muslim Ban

Posted by Guest on June 24, 2019 in Blog

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 marks the one-year anniversary of Trump v. Hawaii. The case was the culmination of a series of Executive Orders and Proclamations issued by President Donald Trump, through which he tested the limits of his presidential powers in attempts to tighten immigration regulations. While the administration has insisted otherwise, the final rendition of Trump’s Muslim Ban is an active effort to suppress, discriminate against, and villianize the Muslim community. Over the past year, the ban has served to normalize and “[institutionalize] anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred,” justifying bigotry as an American convention.

President Trump’s campaign to impose restrictions on immigration and US travel are framed around “‘[detecting] individuals with terrorist ties’ and ‘people who bear hostile attitudes’ toward the nation’s values.” Though disguised as a tool for national security, his restrictions embody a shrouded fear of “otherness” and that which is deemed un-American. But it is neither this administration’s duty nor privilege to define what being American means.

North Korea and Venezuela were superfluous additions to the ban, serving to distract the public and the Court. The distraction was successful, with the Supreme Court “upholding the revised version.” Though dissenters such as Justice Sotomayor saw through the president’s “cosmetic changes” to the executive order—declaring the decision as “driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus, rather than by the Government’s asserted national-security justifications”—the majority opinion still held that the “ban served a ‘legitimate national security interest’.”

Efforts to increase national security are obsessed with discriminatory links between Muslims and terrorism. Meanwhile, there is no viable evidence that this correlation is accurate. David Bier of the Cato Institute finds that “no one from the travel ban countries, nor any Muslim refugee, has killed anyone in the United States in more than 40 years.” Yet, policies continue to bedevil travelers from Muslim majority countries, using national security as a justification for profiling. This is particularly evidenced in the increased efforts to complicate visa applications with “security questions”—most recently the new social media question. Meanwhile, the administration continually attempts to justify the ban and other discriminatory policies. Feeble concessions like the waiver exception were used to convince the Court of the ban’s authenticity and to placate protesters. However, Win Without War finds the waiver exception to be “a sham, with 98% of applications denied or pending after a process that lacks clarity and transparency,” while Senator Van Hollen’s recent report indicated that the exception had only benefitted 5.1 percent of applicants. The waiver process is an empty promise. The report also determined that, “there is no application for a waiver—the State Department says it ‘automatically considers applicants for them.’” In any case, the process is so complex that it successfully deters individuals from pursuing the option.

On the one-year anniversary, we must stop to reevaluate the state of the nation in which we are living. A particularly effective way to counter this institutionalized discrimination is through the implementation of the NO BAN Act, which will “prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion and national origin, so that no president will ever again be able to ban an entire community without accountability or oversight.” AAI’s Executive Director, Maya Berry, calls it “an intervention all must support.”

The Supreme Court is an institution endowed upon our nation, serving to check and balance decisions, guaranteeing that American values and rights do not erode. One year is far too long for such malignant policies to persist, and it is time to call upon our institutions to redirect the American trajectory.


This post was guest authored by Anne-Katrine Glittenberg, a 2019 summer Government Relations intern.