Advertisement Close

Trump Supporters Use Discriminatory Laws and Japanese Internment Camp "Precedent" to Support Muslim Registry

posted on: Nov 17, 2016

Trump Supporters Use Discriminatory Laws and Japanese Internment Camp "Precedent" to Support Muslim Registry

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

Get out your Holocaust history textbooks because President-elect Trump is making the word “registry” trendy again. Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, told Reuters that a “Muslim registry” is being considered by Trump.

Kobach has been in regular contact with Trump’s immigration advisors, and said the Muslim registry and border wall could be done without congressional approval. Kobach is widely known for his hardline immigration views. He is also the architect of the tough immigration laws of a few states, such as Arizona and Alabama.

According to Kobach, Trump could push for the Muslim registry and the border wall very quickly through executive orders and is prepared to help in the process. The Muslim registration scheme would give all immigrants from Arab and Muslim majority countries an identification form that states their religion.

For a moment, it appeared that Trump had pulled back from his hardlined anti-Muslim immigration stance after winning the election, but his team confirmed that the president-elect still has every intention of following through with his promises.

Kobach suggested reinstating a national immigrant registry used in the Patriot Act era. After 9/11, President Bush approved the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which was also designed by Kobach. Commonly referred to as NSEERS, the system targeted immigrants from countries deemed “higher risk” because terrorist organizations or cells were known to be there. Of the 25 countries included on the list, all were Arab or Muslim majority with the exception of North Korea. Anyone from those countries visiting America were required to undergo interrogations, finger printing, and, if a male resident over the age of 16, periodically check in at government offices.

Trump Supporters Use Discriminatory Laws and Japanese Internment Camp "Precedent" to Support Muslim Registry
An Ethiopian visitor undergoing a 10-finger scan and checked against FBI, DOD, DHS, and other criminal records upon arrival in Washington, DC Dulles Airport in 2007. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards. Image sourced from Vox

NSEERS was a civil rights nightmare, though, and was abandoned in 2011 because it discriminated against Arabs and Muslims. However, Kobach believes the plan is a great way for Muslim immigrants to undergo the “extreme vetting” that Trump called for during his campaign.

Trump Supporters Use Discriminatory Laws and Japanese Internment Camp "Precedent" to Support Muslim Registry
A civil rights protest against “special registration” in late 2003. Mario Tama/Getty Images. Image sourced from Vox

Since federal law already requires all immigrants to register their presence – even if they’re in the country illegally – a president has the power to remind all aliens to comply, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. However, a supplementary law allowing the president to enforce a religious or ethnic or race test does not exist.

Another Trump supporter has a solution to the “religious test” issue, however. Carl Higbie, spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC, appeared on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” and was asked about the constitutionality of implementing Kobach’s new plan. In his response, Higbie cited the Japanese internment camps as a “precedent” the Trump Administration could work off. The forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II is a stain on American history and agreeably wrong. Higbie defended his “precedent” claim by saying that he didn’t want to re-implement internment camps; rather, he just wants to use the event as evidence that a Muslim registry could work.

Trump Supporters Use Discriminatory Laws and Japanese Internment Camp "Precedent" to Support Muslim Registry
Japanese Americans in an internment camp in Arizona

“We’ve done it based on race, we’ve done it based on religion, we’ve done it based on region,” Higbie said. “We’ve done it with Iran back — back a while ago. We did it during World War II with [the] Japanese.”

Needless to say, Megyn Kelly swiftly chided his suggestion, saying, “You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is going to do.”

The suggestions of both Kobach and Higbie have been met with furious criticism from Muslim and Arab organizations, Japanese Americans, civil rights groups, activists, and concerned citizens across the country. Trump has been called on to denounce Higbie’s statements and confirm Kobach’s, but the Trump team has been silent.

Watch Carl Higbie on the “The Kelly File” here: