Biden’s Day 1—Ending the Muslim Ban and Trump’s Assault on Black and Brown People
By: John Mason / Arab America Contributing Writer
The past weeks of former President Trump’s actions and inactions have left law-abiding Americans in a state of turmoil and anger. However, relief is here. President Biden has solid plans for addressing broader issues of a degraded economy and mangled COVID’s response. The end to the Muslim ban is just one of several, actions Biden has promised.
Biden pledges to end Trump’s Muslim travel ban
One of President Biden’s earlier promises has been to end former President Trump’s Muslim travel ban on his very first day of office. Along with rejoining the Paris climate change agreement and the World Health Organization, ending the Muslim travel ban is at the top of the list.
As early as June 2020, according to a CNBC report, “Biden said the 2017 travel restrictions were the opening barrage in what has been nearly four years of constant pressure, insults and attacks against racial and religious minorities by President Trump.”
Along with lifting the ban Biden pledged to work to pass hate crimes legislation, such as the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act, and the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act. He announced this to attendees of the Million Muslim Votes Summit, an online conference hosted by the nation’s largest Muslim-American political group.
The Muslim ban was one of Trump’s first acts as President in 2017 when he put a block on entry to the U.S. of travelers from seven Muslim nations including Iran, Iraq Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Chaos in airports around the world ensued, a result of travelers from those seven countries have had their visit to the U.S. curtailed for at least the next 90 days.
Lawsuits against the ban quickly followed, as federal judges curtailed the first ban, upon which Trump issued a second ban. That, too, was quickly ensnarled in the courts. Trump issued yet a third ban in late 2017, which dropped Iraq from the list since it was an ally of the U.S. in the war against al-Qaida. That reduced the list to six majority Muslim countries and two non-Muslim countries. The third ban was upheld constitutionally by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court.
Overturning the ban should be easy since it was established by executive order. While it can be as easily reversed by a Biden executive order, lawsuits launched by conservative opponents could delay the ban’s end.
Ending Trump’s War on Minorities
The Trump ban on Muslims was one of the first assaults on black and brown people. Four years later, we see the impact of this assault in the rise of a virulent white supremacist movement. This movement culminated in the Wednesday, January 6 insurrection against the Capitol, the People’s House.
Over Trump’s four-year rule, we have witnessed a growing Islamophobia as well as a steep rise in the rate of hate crimes. Such racial hatred resulted in the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. As Biden noted, “Donald Trump has fanned the flames of hate in this country across the board, through his words, his policies, his appointments and his deeds.”
In achieving the goals of his campaign, Biden promised, as reported in an Al-Jazeera column, to “work with you to rip the poison of hate from our society to honour your contributions and seek your ideas. My administration will look like America, with Muslim Americans serving at every level.”
Biden’s other reversals of poisonous Trump policies to favor rich people and white people generally include a policy to reunite immigrant children separated from their families. He also intends to present new legislation to naturalize 11 million undocumented people currently living in the country.
In compensating for the economic decline during the coronavirus pandemic, the new President will introduce a $1.9 trillion recovery and stimulus package that is aimed at helping disadvantage folks, among whom, of course, are many of the black and brown population which Trump has done so much to harm.
Arab Americans of all faiths and national origins should feel relieved by President Biden’s promises to reintroduce principles of justice, freedom, and human rights to all Americans. Oh, what a relief it is!
“Biden pledges to end Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ on his first day in office,” CNBC, 7/20/2020
“Biden to reverse Trump’s Muslim ban on inauguration day,” Al-Jazeera, 1/17/2021
John Mason, PhD., who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He did fieldwork in an east Libyan Saharan oasis and has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and the American University in Cairo. John served with the United Nations as an official in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively on socioeconomic and political development for USAID, the UN, and the World Bank in 65 countries.
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