Like a blooper reel from a racist reality television show starring Donald Trump, we are now on Muslim ban, take three. The Sept. 24, 2017 presidential proclamation marks the third attempt at fulfilling a flawed campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslim from entering the United States.”
But like his previous attempts, this one just got challenged in court as well.
Just hours ago, the National Iranian American Council and our partners (Muslim Advocates, IAAB and Americans United for Separation of Church and State) filed the first lawsuit in the country challenging the Sept. 24 proclamation. The complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division ― titled Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump ― seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the Sept. 24 proclamation.
It’s Still A Muslim Ban
Sure, not every Muslim-majority country is included in this ban. But Muslim-majority countries remain the only ones impacted in any meaningful way, and the intent of fulfilling a campaign promise to ban Muslims has not changed.
Three countries were added to the newest iteration of the Muslim ban: North Korea, Venezuela and Chad. In 2016, only 1,355 nonimmigrant visas were issued to nationals of Chad, a Muslim-majority country, and a grand total of 100 nonimmigrant visas were issued to North Korea. A majority of the 156,361 visas issued to Venezuelans in 2016 will continue to be permitted into the United States, because only Venezuelan government officials and their families are barred from visas.
Syria accounted for 9,096 nonimmigrant visas issued in 2016, Yemen 5,203, Libya 2,307 and Somalia 451.
If 2016 visa statistics are any indicator, Iran accounted for 29,404 ― the lion’s share of nonimmigrant visas ― and is among the broadest categorically banned countries under the third Muslim ban.
So although North Korea and Venezuela were added, both non-Muslim majority countries, their inclusion is insignificant, because the newest Muslim ban would only affect about 100 North Koreans and a handful of Venezuelan government officials. The rest of the families affected will likely be Muslim and will likely be Iranian.
So can we still call this proclamation a Muslim ban? Absolutely, because it very much is.
The Multiple Muslim Bans Do Nothing To Keep America Safe
The Trump administration had more than 90 days to conduct a review of threats to our national security from abroad. They were not able to produce a shred of evidence that would indicate a credible threat to national security from Iranian nationals, or citizens of the other countries targeted. That is because since as far back as 1975, no one in the United States has been killed in a terrorist attack by someone from the seven countries targeted by Trump’s original Muslim ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The Muslim ban is not about keeping Americans safe, because we are not addressing the countries or movements from which actual threats emanate from. In fact, none of the three Muslim bans would have prevented 9/11, San Bernardino or even the deadly mass shooting that was carried out in Orlando, Florida ― a place that I called home for seven years.
The multiple Muslim bans, and Donald Trump’s racially charged rhetoric, has actually contributed to making America less safe ― 2017 has marked a dramatic rise in hate crimes.
Sudan Was Able To Buy Its Way Out Of Muslim Ban #3
Case in point, consider the case of Sudan. The African country is wrestling with a significant Al-Qaeda presence, yet it was able to avoid being included in the third Muslim ban despite being targeted by executive order #1 and #2. Why?
According to investigative journalist Ryan Grim, the explanation lies in aggressive lobbying by the United Arab Emirates in return for Sudan sending thousands of mercenaries to help the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s war efforts in Yemen. By providing mercenary support, Sudan effectively purchased their way out of inclusion in Muslim ban #3 – and just like that, the national security threat that Trump claimed Sudan presented in executive order #1 and #2 disappeared.
This clearly isn’t about America’s safety. It’s about Trump’s ego and his promise to his base to ban Muslims. If President Trump was serious about addressing terror threats and threats to national security, he would take seriously the bipartisan Committee on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel’s findings from 2015, which did not list Trump-targeted countries like Iran in the top five countries from which foreign fighters originate. He would take seriously foreign intervention in our elections or threats from global warming and climate change.
But he has not taken any of these threats to American safety seriously, yet, because he is obsessed and consumed with fulfilling his promise to ban Muslims without regard for how it will tear apart American families.
Why We Are Suing… Again
Over the last nine months, Iranian-Americans and other targeted communities have been forced to become experts in immigration law and familiarize themselves with new immigration laws and policies that seem to change every few months. They don’t do it because they love studying the law in their spare time – they do it because they have to and because being reunited with their families depends on their knowledge of how to navigate the new laws.
The Sept. 24 proclamation, in many respects, is the most cruel and absurd of the three Muslim bans and is most detrimental to the Iranian community in particular. An estimated 62 percent of individuals affected by the third Muslim ban will be Iranian.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and our partners filed this lawsuit challenging Muslim ban #3, because what has remained constant throughout the last eight months – aside from the glaring congressional inaction and passivity in the face of an assault on bedrock American values and principles – is the racial and religious animus that motivates President Trump to persist with new attempts at banning Muslims.
It has taken the Trump administration three takes to figure out how to legally implement a Muslim ban – because they still have not figured out it is unconstitutional to implement a Muslim ban. NIAC and our partners will be there to serve as a periodic reminder that a Muslim ban is un-American and unconstitutional.