Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the first implementation of President Donald J. Trump’s Muslim ban. Since then, the Trump administration has attempted three versions of the ban – all to exclude people for their religious beliefs.
This has had significant consequences on the American Muslim and immigrant community. Recently, The New York Times ran a heartbreaking story about Yemenis who were approved for visas to come to America but prevented by Trump’s third Muslim ban. Yemen is one of the six Muslim-majority countries affected by the indefinite ban.
The article featured personal stories of families being torn apart, including that of Mohammed Alawadhi, a doctor in Arkansas, and his wife, Rasha Alzabaidi. Alzabaidi, who has a heart ailment, was approved on December 6, but on December 21, she got a rejection notice – four days after multiple other families who had been approved reported that they also received rejection notices.
“She said to me: ‘Mohammad, they shattered families. I am seeing families in the street crying like they have a death in the family,’” Alawadhi told the Times.
The Times described the considerable effort that Yemenis must undertake: “For people trying to flee Yemen, the rejections have come at considerable cost. With the American Embassy in Sana, the Yemeni capital, closed since February 2015 because of fighting between Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabian-backed military forces, most Yemenis go to Djibouti to apply for their visas. According to relatives, they first have to go through multiple military checkpoints to leave Yemen. Or they must travel on a boat across the Gulf of Aden.”
So why are Yemenis and people from other Muslim-majority countries being banned? According to statistics, not one person from any of the Muslim-majority countries included in the ban has committed a fatal terrorist attack on U.S. soil (not that that would justify banning an entire nation of people), but that doesn’t concern the Trump administration, which has continued to skew statistics to justify the ban as a “national security” issue.
The Muslim ban is separating families.
This month, the Department of Justice released a report that highlighted the “foreign-born” people who have committed international terrorist attacks in the United States, while ignoring (many more) incidents of domestic terrorism. In the lopsided study’s conclusion, the report noted that the administration “will continue to report appropriate information regarding terrorism-related activity, as well as other information as directed under the President’s Executive Order, in an effort to highlight the threats facing the United States, trends, and relevant U.S. Government actions.”
Experts were quick to call out the report, noting that American citizens have been responsible for most terrorist attacks in the country since 9/11.
“If you’re looking at international terrorism, you’re going to see people with a more international background – that’s just common sense,” said William Braniff, the executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. “Whenever you’re trying to answer an analytical question, the way you frame the question directly contributes to what data you include in [the] analysis, and in this case, they exclude a lot of data that would present a different picture.”
The fake news that the Trump administration is pushing to justify the unconstitutional Muslim ban is wrong and shows that the administration’s intent remains to ban people based on their religion.
Religious freedom is about fairness. Singling people out for discrimination because of their religious beliefs is wrong. The Trump administration’s discriminatory policies and rhetoric are harmful, and so we stand with Muslims and religious minorities and are fighting the ban in court.
On January 19, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the Muslim ban in the spring, and we will be urging the justices to strike it down.
And this coming Saturday, we will be outside the White House to stand with our allies and the Muslim community to say there should be no Muslim ban, ever. Join us.