The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hand a decision on the Muslim ban case any day now – maybe even tomorrow. President Donald J. Trump, meanwhile, is doing his side no favors. He reportedly compared the cruel and inhumane ban to his highly controversial policy of family separation at the southern border.
According to a Buzzfeed report, in a meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday, Trump defended his “zero tolerance” family-separation policy saying, “We want the heart, but we also want strong borders, and we want no crime,” when he directly weaved the Muslim ban in with his “national security” concerns.
“We don’t want crime in this country. We don’t want people coming in – we don’t want people coming in from the Middle East through our border using children to get through the line. We don’t want that,” Trump said. “We’re doing too good of a job to allow that to happen. So we’re not going to allow that to happen.”
The comments indicate that Trump remains obsessed with blocking Muslims from entering the country. This animus may be driving his family-separation policy (which he now claims to have rescinded), even though most families affected by that policy are from Central America.
It’s not surprising that Trump, who called for a “shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” while campaigning, continues to hurt his administration’s official explanation for the Muslim ban by proving that the ban is what he promised while campaigning—that it is designed to exclude people for their religious beliefs.
While the third iteration of the Muslim ban includes North Koreans and certain government officials from Venezuela, Trump’s comments highlight his true intent: targeting Muslim-majority countries. Trump has also refused to apologize for his anti-Muslim comments when given an opportunity.
Trump’s lawyers, on the other hand, have argued to the Supreme Court that the ban is based not on anti-Muslim animus but instead on national-security concerns. Yet they’ve failed to present any evidence to prove it.
In a Just Security column today, Americans United lawyer Eric Rothschild challenges the Trump administration’s contention that the ban is about national security.
“In adjudicating the ban, the Supreme Court is grappling with some of the loftiest principles of our constitutional structure: equal rights; religious freedom; the authority of the president to act in the interests of national security,” Rothschild writes. “Right now, the government’s main rationale for upholding the ban rests on mere assertion, not evidence – and there is reason to doubt whether the assertions and evidence line up.”
Rothschild continues: “If the court were to rule in favor of the government without requiring it to offer proof, it would run the risk of repeating its mistake in the Japanese internment cases, the most controversial modern decisions about the use of federal power to discriminate against one group of people for the ostensible purpose of protecting national security. In those cases, the government relied on a military report to support its claims about the national-security threat posed by Japanese Americans, but that report turned out to be so riddled with misrepresentations that decades later the United States government confessed error for having presented it to the court.”
Rothschild is right. History teaches us that there should be no Muslim ban, ever. That’s why children of Japanese-Americans held in the detention camps warned the Supreme Court that the Muslim-ban case has ominous historical parallels.
“History teaches caution and skepticism when vague notions of national security are used to justify vast, unprecedented exclusionary measures that target disfavored classes,” the Japanese American Citizens League wrote to the high court.
A lot is at stake. Because of the Muslim ban, many Americans are separated from their loved ones because they’re from a Muslim-majority country included in the ban. That’s why regardless of what and when the Supreme Court decides in this case, AU will join allies and activists outside the court to declare no Muslim ban at 11:45 AM EDT on decision day. Join us because families should be kept together, and all religions should be welcome here!
America is at its best when people of all religions feel welcome here. For people of all faiths and for people who don’t claim any faith at all – religious freedom means that the law treats everyone equally. Americans United will continue to protect this ideal no matter what discriminatory policies the Trump administration tries to implement.