New Travel Ban Still Anti-Muslim, Critics Charge

By Lafranchi, Howard; Williams, Weston et al. | The Christian Century, April 12, 2017 | Go to article overview

New Travel Ban Still Anti-Muslim, Critics Charge


Lafranchi, Howard, Williams, Weston, Bruinius, Harry, The Christian Century


In the eyes of critics, President Trump's executive order on travel to the United States by refugees and nationals of six Muslim-majority countries is still an unconstitutional Muslim ban.

The new order was scheduled to take effect March 16 but was stopped by two federal judges.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii commented in his ruling that "a reasonable, objective observer ... would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion."

The new executive action exempts U.S. green-card holders and other foreigners in possession of a valid visa, and it no longer singles out Syrians for indefinite suspension from entry.

The revised order also allows immigration officials to issue visas to individuals from the six temporarily banned countries on a case-by-case basis, for example, for students and work visa holders or children and individuals requiring urgent medical care.

In addition, the new order no longer prioritizes the resettlement of religious minorities--Christians, by and large--from the six Muslim-majority countries. That prioritization was one of the key features of the original order.

"This is not a Muslim ban in any way, shape, or form," a senior Department of Homeland Security official said, citing as proof the fact that the ban does not affect the vast majority of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.

Some say the revised travel order would still be counterproductive because it would raise tensions with Muslim countries whether or not they are affected by the ban, while playing into the propaganda efforts of terrorists. [Others have pointed to the executive order's request for a report on the number of honor killings carried out in the United States by "foreign nationals" as stoking stereotypical views of Muslims. Scholars consider honor killings, a form of violence against women, as stemming from cultural rather than religious norms.]

The six countries included in the 90-day travel ban are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Officials said Iraq was dropped from the list of countries subject to a 90-day travel ban because of its strides in recent weeks to address shortcomings in citizens' documentation.

Like the original order, the new executive action suspends the refugee resettlement program for 120 days, while reducing the number of refugees to be accepted by the United States this fiscal year from 110,000, as set by President Obama last year, to 50,000. Trump administration officials say that about 35,000 refugees have already been admitted since the beginning of the fiscal year in October.

Implementing the revised immigration order could be as problematic as the previous one, which was suspended by a federal judge in February. That suspension was subsequently upheld by a federal court of appeals.

After Trump's initial order was halted by federal courts, support for the ban began to wane among most religious groups, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. Support from Catholics, mainline Protestants, and religious minorities dropped. Among white evangelicals, however, support increased.

Bob Roberts, pastor of the 3,000-member North Wood Church in Keller, Texas, has grown concerned by what he sees as Islamophobia among fellow evangelical Christians. …

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