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President Biden Overturned the Muslim Ban on Day 1, But Trump-Era Islamophobia Isn't Going Away

posted on: Jan 23, 2021

There’s a lot more work to be done.



One of the first things President Joe Biden did after the inauguration was sign an executive action repealing the Muslim, refugee, asylum, and African Ban. The move was a long time in the making—he had actually first committed to this back in July, at the Million Muslim Votes Summit (hosted by Emgage Action, a Muslim advocacy organization) where I serve as deputy director), during which he addressed Muslim American communities for the first time.

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By making this promise to Muslim American communities, Biden set an important precedent for American politicians: our community must be engaged, our votes must be earned, and proper attention must be given to policy issues affecting us. After he fulfilled his commitment, I alongside countless other activists who have so tirelessly advocated for an end to this gross violation of human rights, celebrate this victory.

But the fight is not over yet.

The Muslim Ban has caused irreparable harm to Muslim communities domestically and abroad. It has separated families and institutionalized Islamophobia. Furthermore, when enacted, there was no clear transparency on why visas were being denied, nor was there a pathway to contest these denials. Instead of providing guidance to such an ambiguous and bigoted policy, the Trump administration double-downed in 2020, expanding the ban.

Even though Biden’s recent move was monumental, we also need Congressional action to reverse Trump’s regulations. In July 2020, after countless hours of organizing by civil society and advocacy groups, the House of Representatives passed the No Ban Act to ensure that no future administration could enact such a ban. (I can attest to the miles spent pacing the halls of Congress for meetings—and would like to take a moment to remember my favorite boots that were forever destroyed. Totally worth it.) Now we need the Senate to pass this Act, too.

The true impact of the ban is unquantifiable.

We also need a comprehensive assessment of families who have been afflicted by the ban and to grant visas to those that were unjustly denied. Legislation requiring additional oversight and credible facts will be vital to ensure that executive powers have necessary checks and balances.

Beyond legislative action, it’s important to note that the true impact of the ban is unquantifiable: the anti-Muslim sentiment, racism, and trauma inflicted upon families cannot be eradicated with an executive order. It will indisputably leave a dark legacy that will take years to undo. Just because Trump is out of office and his Muslim ban has been overturned doesn’t mean that we are protected from the xenophobic rot that festered at the core of his efforts. Remember, 74 million people did vote for the man.

And here’s the thing: Muslim American communities are incredibly diverse and intersectional. We’re comprised of Black communities, Latinx communities, undocumented communities, and low-income communities. Because of that, criminal justice reform, equal access to healthcare and education, rights for indigenous and undocumented communities, human rights for communities abroad—these are all “Muslim issues” that the Biden-Harris administration needs to tackle next.

I’m grateful Biden prioritized the Muslim community during his first day in office, but his administration must continue to fight for a more just and equitable society for all minority communities. That executive action was a good first step. Now, let’s get to work.