As a candidate for president, Donald Trump vowed to ban Muslim refugees and immigrants. Just a few days into his presidency, it looks like he’s poised to act unilaterally to fulfill that promise.
Trump may as soon as tomorrow sign an order to temporarily ban people from coming to the United States from some Muslim-majority countries and halt refugees from resettling here. This action is clearly targeted at Muslims, and it is a breach of the foundational American promise of religious freedom for all. It’s fundamentally un-American.
The order flies in the face of America’s long history of providing safe harbor to those seeking a better life. For example, it will grind refugee processing to a halt, denying entry to those seeking safety. Refugees will be pulled off of planes, families who are anticipating their loved ones will be devastated and communities that have planned for refugees to arrive will be left in limbo.
The United States has welcomed refugees and immigrants from many faith traditions. That may end under Trump.
This order also defies our country’s commitment to religious freedom. People of all faiths and backgrounds have long sought refuge in our country. Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and atheists, among others, have all come to America because of our country’s promise of religious freedom. Indeed, the Constitution protects the right of Muslims, just like people who follow any other religion or no religion, to exercise their beliefs. No one should face fear, intimidation or threat of physical violence because of their beliefs. Trump’s policy, however, turns its back on this deeply rooted tradition of religious freedom.
The president wants to bar refugee resettlement based on the false notion that it’s not safe to bring some refugee families to this country. But this fear is unfounded. Refugees who resettle in America already face a lengthy vetting process involving security checks. In fact, singling out Muslims for disfavored treatment may actually harm our national security.
This detrimental policy only confirms the fears many people have following the divisive rhetoric of the presidential campaign. It will only further stoke anti-Muslim sentiment and, I fear, anti-Muslim hate crimes that are already on the rise.
We should all speak up against discriminatory rhetoric and policies, like this one, that target people based on their religion. In truth, an attack on people who follow one faith undermines the protections that apply equally to all of us, no matter our religion or belief. Our country is stronger when we stand united to defend our values.
We’re less than a week into the Trump administration and we’ve already seen the president launch devastating policies. This is just one of many we expect will divide people based on the religion (or no religion) they practice, the country they come from, the color of their skin, the person they love or the health care they need for themselves and their families.
Americans United will stand with Muslims and anyone targeted because of their religion or beliefs. We’ll fight against policies that fly in the face of religious freedom, one of our most dearly held principles.