By any other name: Revised Trump border rules will still be a Muslim ban
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What is most remarkable about the information contained in Friday’s leaked draft Homeland Security Department (DHS) intelligence report is that it should be newsworthy at all.

Its “findings” — most of which are based on widely available public information — are nothing new. The revelation that citizens from the seven Muslim-majority counties in the proposed travel ban are “rarely implicated in U.S.-based terrorism” are not revelations at all. And the assertion that citizenship of these countries is an “unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States” would normally be regarded as so obvious that it would fail to raise an eyebrow. But we are not living in normal times.

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This simple three page document, which reportedly will feed into a wider DHS security assessment, puts yet another serious dent the White House’s flimsy central argument that the measure is necessary for national security reasons.

 

This argument, which formed the basis of the first executive order, was met with extreme skepticism by federal and appeal court judges. But the Trump administration seems determined to keep pushing it. Indeed, a revised travel ban is expected this week.

Like the first executive order, it is very unlikely that the revised version will explicitly mention a ban on Muslims. The discriminatory intent behind it will nevertheless be blatant. The ban is based on prejudice against refugees and Muslims and is a clear violation of U.S. obligations under international law.

Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press last July, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE explained that the shift from his talk about the need to ban all Muslims from entering America to calling for the targeting specific countries was not a rollback. “People were so upset when I used the word Muslim,” he explained, “Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim. Remember this. And I’m OK with that, because I’m talking territory instead of Muslim.”

There is no evidence to support the view that refugees – Muslim or otherwise – pose more risk of committing acts of terrorism than anyone else. In 2016, 72% of the refugees resettled to the U.S. were women and children. Rather than being someone who is inherently likely to commit acts of terrorism, a refugee flees violence, including acts of terrorism.

The revised version of this unlawful executive order will likely be a Muslim ban by another name — the same intent, the same impact. People will be hurt by it, families will live in fear and uncertainty and, for many refugees, the hopes of a new life in a safe country will be shattered.

While the White House was quick to downplay the leaked DHS report — a spokesperson said it “was commentary from open source reporting” — it will nevertheless be cause for concern for the president.

If even DHS’s own intelligence analysts cannot find sufficient justification for banning citizens of these seven counties from the United States, this discriminatory and repugnant policy will not survive.

The Trump administration’s attempt to cloak a discriminatory policy in respectability through an appeal to national security concerns has been well and truly exposed. It is clearer than ever that the travel ban is based on bigotry, not on security, and the Trump administration cannot justifiably move forward with it. If it attempts to do so, Congress must step in.

Margaret Huang is Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. Follow her on Twitter @MargaretLHuang


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