Reflections on a President, a Ban, and a Country’s Racial Past - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Reflections on a President, a Ban, and a Country’s Racial Past

By Laylaa Abdul-Khabir

I remember the day then-candidate Donald Trump first announced his proposal for a Muslim ban. Reading from a notecard on the podium, he stated, carefully and deliberately, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States … ” he continued, “ … until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on!” The crowd cheered.

It seemed like a stunt, another one of a series of theatrics designed to draw attention to his candidacy. This week, the highest court in the land validated the president’s proposal and vouched for his authority to issue what they have called “entry restrictions.”  The Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii granted legal legitimacy and cover for an executive order that will have ominous impacts on Muslims and adjacent communities at home and abroad.

The first Muslims came to America on slave ships, forced journeys across the Atlantic that were not the product of choice.

Origin stories are important, and words matter. The conflation of Muslims with a sense of suspicion and chaos in our country – “what the hell is going on” – was no accident. Much as Trump’s critics point to his lack of eloquent articulation, his words are carefully chosen, and often calculated to powerful effect. He did not need to state that Muslims are feared for their ties to terrorism both here and abroad, that as a group they are suspected; those sentiments were implied and deeply interwoven in our country’s racial imagination. “We have no choice,” Trump stated, concluding his proposal and throwing up his hands, “We have no choice!”

The first Muslims came to America on slave ships, forced journeys across the Atlantic that were not the product of choice. Their religious practices were often hidden from their slave masters; any sign of agency was not desirable in a slave. Despite this early history, in the immigration from South Asia and the Middle East that followed the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, Muslim identity in America has taken on a largely foreign connotation, bearing the mark of many off-white groups who are both American and yet never-quite.  In 2001, 9/11 accelerated the already embedded hostility and suspicion toward Muslims in America, just as Trump’s election intensified the White supremacy that forms the fabric of this country’s identity.

Rally against the Muslim Ban at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2018

For, at its heart, the Muslim ban represents a separation: those desirable enough to enter this country from those undesirable, by virtue of some amalgamation of their national origin, religion and non-White identity, that collected together form a vague and shadowy threat in the American psyche.  It is age-old prejudice, not new in this country, but recycled and rebranded with new words for a new era. The fact that the collateral damage is that many will be separated from family members and many others will fear leaving this country, is encompassed as the cost we must pay for the security of our nation. It was not lost on many the irony of the Court choosing to overturn its Korematsu decision allowing Japanese internment camps at this critical juncture. “To make express what is already obvious,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, [and] has been overruled in the court of history.” But is it so obvious? For a country debating the merits of detaining immigrants and their children, for a country that has recently restricted Muslim entry, what is apparent is that a court and a public remain unwilling to truthfully confront its history.

KEEP READING

The Supreme Court Sees through the Trump Administration’s Racist Census Question

In a victory for immigrants and communities of color, a citizenship question will not be added to the 2020 Census.

Read More
Advancement Project Denounces Trump Administration Plan to Place Migrant Youth in Former WWII Internment Camp

Federal government is bypassing legal agreement protecting treatment of migrant children by opening up prisons in military bases including Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Read More
National Civil Rights Organization supports American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, Opposes Migrant Criminalizing 

Statement in Support of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, Opposition on Motion to Recommit 

Read More
Advancement Project Turns 20

Movement Lawyering Conference Freedom Now! Freedom Forever! Celebration The 2045 Project Advancement Project Giving Circle THIS IS NOT A GALA – It’s a movement! We’re putting the racial justice event of the year together and you’re invited to attend! On Thursday, October 17, 2019, we will celebrate 20 years of progressive racial justice movement work with an event beyond any gala. This is for the people! Join Advancement Project National Office…

Read More
Advancement Project Turns 20

Movement Lawyering Conference Freedom Now! Freedom Forever! Celebration The 2045 Project Advancement Project Giving Circle THIS IS NOT A GALA – It’s a movement! We’re putting the racial justice event of the year together and you’re invited to attend! On Thursday, October 17, 2019, we will celebrate 20 years of progressive racial justice movement work with an event beyond any gala. This is for the people! Join Advancement Project National Office…

Read More
Because Justice Never Takes a Day Off

On April 28, 1999, Advancement Project National Office opened its doors. We were bright-eyed, yet already seasoned, ready to take on voting rights with a racial justice lens. We were winning cases and building a movement right out the door. Now that we have been addressing not only voting rights, but immigrant justice, criminal legal system issues and education justice for 20 years, some may ask what are we doing today to ensure the country’s next 20 years are freer for people of color? Glad you asked.

Read More
We Must End Immigration Detention TODAY!

The “immigration detention system” dehumanizes individuals at every level. “Detention centers” are prisons with atrocious conditions. The immigration detention is part of this country’s mass incarceration crisis. We’ve seen this firsthand.

Read More
Advancement Project’s National Office Sues DHS, ICE, and CBP for Failing to Provide Records Under the Freedom of Information Act About the Administration’s Traffic Stops in South Florida

Washington D.C. – Today April 4, 2019, Advancement Project’s National Office sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for failing to provide records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), involving the traffic stops and roving patrols in Homestead, Florida. In partnership with WeCount!, Advancement Project’s National Office seeks information about ICE stopping cars in the Homestead area of South Miami-Dade County. “We are concerned about ICE and CBP’s racial profiling in conducting traffic stops given that CBP and ICE are the largest federal police force. WeCount! members…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Sues DHS and ICE for Failing to Provide Records Under FOIA

Complaint seeks access to information about the Trump Administration’s Anti-Immigrant Hotline and ICE Collaboration in Virginia

Read More
U.S. Supreme Court Issues a New Assault on the Civil Liberties of Immigrant Communities

"...an egregious expansion of an already out-of-control immigration detention system that criminalizes people of color and fuels the prison industrial complex.”

Read More