WASHINGTON – American Muslim advocacy and civil liberty groups are planning for Donald Trump’s potential executive order restricting immigration from Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, seen as the first actual implementation of what then-candidate Trump said would be a complete ban on Muslims entering the US.
“We are preparing for the inevitability of what kind of ‘Muslim ban’ will be implemented, and we’re working with coalition partners to develop a strategy to defend rights and religious freedoms,” Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director and spokesperson for CAIR, told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, January 25.
Taking office a few days ago, the Trump administration has for the most part not consulted the relevant government agencies before releasing executive actions.
A State Department official said that they were unaware of any impending order.
Reports of expected Muslim ban were reported by Reuters on Tuesday, citing congressional aides who said that Trump was expected to sign executive orders that limited immigration for refugees “and some visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.”
President Trump is also expected to temporarily bar most refugees from entry to the United States.
Hooper said that CAIR is in contact with a “broad spectrum” of Muslim, Arab-American, civil liberty, immigration, and refugee organizations to collaborate with on litigation when the time comes.
Asked about litigation, he added, “Everybody is poised, waiting to see what the language is of this version of the Muslim ban, and we’ll go from there. Because until you see the specific language it’s difficult to react.”
Hoda Hawa, Director of Advocacy and Policy at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said they would be taking a three-pronged approach to addressing any such executive action, whether it concerns Muslims or any other minority group.
She added that MPAC would partner with groups whose primary expertise is in the legality of any actions, while simultaneously working with the media and press to ensure the conversation about the controversial ban remains, and lastly, work with allies on Capitol Hill.
“Muslim Advocates is prepared to protect the rights of Americans of all faiths. Together, with our allies from countless communities, we are ready to fight back, protect our nation’s freedoms, and stand up for what’s right,” Muslim Advocates, a civil liberty organization, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“Muslim Advocates will be using every resource and legal and advocacy tool available to ensure that steps that are taken in the name of national security do not erode our core values of freedom, equality and justice for all.”
Similarly, Ken Kimerling, Legal Director of Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund said, “We don’t have a lawsuit in our back pocket but we’re willing to litigate issues regarding muslim registries,” adding that his organization has helped file litigation for behalf of Muslim Americans in the past.
“I can tell you, we’ve been clear about the fact that the constitution prohibits religious discrimination, even in the context of religion,” said Omar Jadwat, director and attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
“I can’t tell you for sure we’re going to sue over something we haven’t seen, especially on the basis of fourth-hand rumors, but you can be sure we are taking very seriously the possibility of litigation in this area.” Jadwat added.
“The question is what is he actually going to announce.”