It’s been 18 months since President Donald Trump issued his first Muslim ban. It’s just shy of a year since Trump enacted his third and current Muslim ban. And a month has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court said this cruel ban that separates American Muslim families can remain in effect.
And yet, we still have no proof from the administration that the Muslim ban was based on anything other than Trump’s hostility toward Muslims.
When Trump issued Muslim Ban 3.0 last September, he claimed a “worldwide review” by the Departments of State and Homeland Security of other countries’ immigration procedures justified his ban. But the government hasn’t provided any evidence to back up these claims; instead, the administration’s process to create and enforce the Muslim ban remains shrouded in secrecy.
Americans United and our allies Muslim Advocates, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP in July 2017 filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department to produce critically important reports the government says led to the creation of Muslim Ban 3.0 and its predecessors. But the government never produced any documents.
Then AU and its allies filed a lawsuit, Brennan Center for Justice v. U.S. Department of State, to force the government to fulfill its legal obligation to provide the information or explain why it couldn’t. A federal judge in January ordered the government to produce the documents we requested by Feb. 9, 2018, or provide an explanation for why the reports were being withheld. But still, the Trump administration hasn’t produced any substantive documents.
The court battle over these documents continues; last night we filed our written argument in the district court explaining why the American people are entitled to know whether there is any basis for excluding millions of people because of their religion and country of origin from visiting their loved ones in this country. These reports have been cited as the justification that has upended countless lives in the United States and around the world – we deserve to know what’s in them. It’s telling that the administration insists these reports justify the Muslim ban while at the same time refusing to disclose what they say.
Given Trump’s long history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, it’s clear his intent has always been to ban as many Muslims from the United States as possible. That’s why Americans United continues to fight this policy.
In addition to our Brennan Center lawsuit, we’ve also joined Muslim Advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center as plaintiffs in Muslim Advocates v. Department of Homeland Security, a lawsuit to compel the Trump administration to explain the process and qualification standards for obtaining waivers to the Muslim ban. And still active is our lawsuit that directly challenges Muslim Ban 3.0 – Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump, which was filed on behalf of individuals and organizations harmed by the ban.
The Muslim ban, which has no expiration date, continues to harm countless Americans and their family members abroad – parents are separated from children, husbands are separated from wives. And Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and this ban have emboldened not only hate crimes and hate speech against Muslims, but also violence and verbal attacks against other religious minorities and people of color. In their submissions to Americans United’s essay contest, Rimpal Bajwa, a Sikh-American high school student from Washington, and Ariel Hall, a Muslim African-American high-schooler from Ohio, described how they and people in their communities have experienced intolerance as a result of the ban.
Americans United will continue to fight the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine church-state separation and single out Muslims for disfavored status. Because religious freedom is for all of us, not just some of us.