Four years after Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, his legacy lives on


Four years ago this month, on June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Trump vs. Hawaii. The court ruled, despite evidence to the contrary, that President Trump’s travel ban was neutral and a matter of national security.

For the most part, the election of Joe Biden and his repeal of the “Muslim ban” renders much of Trump versus Hawaii moot. But with four years of hindsight, the Supreme Court’s refusal to acknowledge that the policy was driven by Trump animosity still haunts us. Trump v. Hawaii not only upheld the “Muslim ban”, but it set a dangerous precedent that may well impact Muslims – US citizens and non-citizens – for years to come, long after Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

of trump Proclamation No. 9645 was not written in a vacuum. Its purpose could not have been clearer than from President Trump himself. He had promised a “complete and total stop of Muslims” from entering the country, proclaimed that “Islam hates us” advocated for the closure of mosques, wanted to create a Muslim database and even compared his “Muslim prohibition” favorably to Japanese internment in the 1940s. Yet the Trump administration argued that those comments were unrelated to the ban, which it insisted was based on national security.

Although hundreds of Republican and Democratic national security officials have debunked the national security argument, the Roberts court ignored the religious animosity of the law and instead focused on the letter of the law. “The text [of the ban] says nothing about religion” and so the courts had to accept the president’s reasoning that “national security” was the reason behind the policy. This despite Trump explaining how he would do it. “assemble a commission together” to help draft a ban that would emphasize national security in order to legalize his illegal “Muslim ban”.

Not only did the decision give a president maximum “national security” power and reach, but it unfortunately allowed the next Trump – a future Trump or maybe even this Trump in 2024 – to take the lead. original “Muslim ban” on five countries and expand it to 15, 20, 30 or even all Muslim-majority countries.

A future president should not stop there. Africans and people of African descent, such as Haitians, could also be banned for national security reasons. This is not hyperbole. It’s already arrived. Following Trump v Hawaii, Trump extended the ban to 13 countries, targeted African countriesblocked refugees and asylum seekers and banned immigrants based on health and their alleged harm to the US economy – all under the guise of protecting our nation.

And when Trump demanded that “Christians [should] have priority for entry as refugees into the United States” because it was “very unfair” that Muslims had historically enjoyed such privileges, it’s likely that the next Trump-like president will enshrine this in law behind a seemingly neutral policy. We have seen the tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who escaped Taliban persecution being deported to that persecution and probable death thanks to Trump v. Hawaii. Maybe the next Trump can even separate Christian refugees from those of Islamic faith. Trump and his supporters have already Afghan refugees targeted and sworn to block their entrance, so it may only be a matter of time.

We might even see state and local governments get in on the action. Already, several states have passed bills handed to them by anti-Muslim hate groups, and these bills are rarely, if ever, challenged. We could see governors demanding records or targeting mosques as Trump demanded. Why could a State not put in place “special identification tracking”, as Trump has suggested, in the name of monitoring national security threats?

Or maybe they could be barred from entering Congress. or the government as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) suggests. Such a law would not say that “Muslims do not need to apply”, but would rather hide behind all legality to give Roberts’ court another excuse for inaction. And politicians who supported these things could be open and blatant in their demonization and discriminatory intent in public because Trump v. Hawaii gave them the right to be.

In Trump v. Hawaii, the court held that Korematsu v. United States, the case that upheld the government’s right to intern Japanese Americans, was not analogous to the current situation. Yet Korematsu became an example for generations of a court turning a blind eye to prejudice; Trump v. Hawaii will have a similar legacy. Beyond its infamous place in the history books, Trump v. Hawaii will give rise to new and more creative ways to demonize Muslims and other Americans as long as the discrimination is not in the text of the law.

Immigration lawyer Christopher Richardson served as a US diplomat between 2011 and 2018 and served in Nigeria, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Spain.


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