Civil Rights Groups Denounce Expansion of Muslim Ban

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In 2017, Japanese Americans took part in protests at LAX against the travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League issued the following statement on Jan. 31:

“Today’s addition of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania expands he number of countries affected by the Muslim ban to 13. Similar to the first ban, the people impacted are predominantly Muslim. But these new additions will also affect those fleeing persecution in places such as Myanmar.

“That these announcements have come in the same week as the three-year anniversary of the issuance of the first Muslim ban and Holocaust Memorial Day is reprehensible. We cannot recall the Holocaust without acknowledging our country’s role in refusing Holocaust refugees entry.

“As we now repeat the same mistake through this expanding and misguided policy, it would behoove us to question its validity and effectiveness. Since the implementation of the first Muslim ban, families have been forced to live apart, college students’ studies have halted, and lives have even been lost because of the restrictions. What has this ban truly done to protect our country?

“The ban is a source of particular pain to the Japanese American community. The Supreme Court upheld the ban in its 2018 decision on the basis of national security. This was the exact same rationale used to uphold the World War II incarceration of nearly 120,000 people, many of whom were citizens, because of our national ancestry. The fact that Chief Justice Roberts went out of his way to repudiate the Korematsu decision was ironic in the decision’s reaffirmation of discrimination on the basis of national origin under the guise of national security. In neither case has the government been able to prove an actual security threat.

“The expansion of the Muslim ban continues a pattern of discrimination by this country against communities of color as also seen in the policies of family separation and incarceration, changes to the public charge definition, and most recently, subjecting American citizens of Iranian ancestry to additional screening at the Canadian border.

“Having experienced the sting of restrictions on Asian immigration in the past, JACL opposes these broad attacks on immigration which stand in direct opposition to the ideals upon which this country was founded that we have yet to truly uphold.”

Mike Ishii, co-director of Tsuru for Solidarity, issued the following statement on the same day:

“Three years after his first Muslim ban, Trump announced today that he is expanding it to six additional countries. Like each previous version of the Muslim ban, this new ban is rooted in the Trump administration’s bigotry and xenophobia, including the president’s well-known belief that black immigrants come from ‘sh*thole countries.’

“As Japanese Americans, we recognize this kind of bigotry; it is what politicians used during World War II to justify rounding up our families and throwing us into American concentration camps.

“And the expanded Muslim ban is just the latest example of how this administration is using immigration policy to promote discrimination, repression, and fear. This administration has imprisoned parents and children, dismantled asylum protections for people fleeing violence, and sought to eliminate protections for Dreamers and other longtime U.S. residents.

“We stand in solidarity with the communities being targeted today.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement:

“Three years after the start of the first Muslim ban, we see and hear the impact every day in the stories of loved ones and families unable to see each other simply because of their religion. Now, doubling down on a failed policy, Donald Trump is exposing the truth about his war on immigrants by deliberately separating even more families.

“By specifically targeting permanent visas, which are used by families, and not impacting short-term visitor visas, this ban shows it was never about security, and always about keeping Muslims and people of color from having the same chance at the American Dream that everyone else has.

“If it were true that the ban was because of an inability to vet applicants, as the administration claimed, then they would not have allowed short-term visas either. But this ban is looking to do what the first ban is already doing: keep families apart. And of course, we know that America has the ability to safely vet visa applicants because we have been doing so for years.

“That is why we need to pass the No Ban Act immediately. This bill will repeal the president’s Muslim ban and change the law so that any future ban must be based on evidence. I’m encouraged by Speaker Pelosi’s announcement that we will vote on this bill soon and I look forward to finally limiting the president’s authority to enact such cruel policies.”

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