How the Supreme Court’s Muslim Ban 3.0 will impact even American Muslim citizens negatively
The Supreme Court’s “kindness” in allowing those with a “bona fide relationship” to be exempted from President Trump’s Muslim Ban is highly dependent on the person on the border. There are many professionals who do their jobs honorably, but there are others who treat people so poorly that in one survey 66% of foreign travelers, mostly whites from Western Europe, said they were afraid of coming to the United States for fear that a simple mistake could result in horrible treatment or detainments.
Here is the partial wording of the Supreme Court’s decision:
The Government’s application to stay the injunction with respect to §§6(a) and (b) is accordingly granted in part. Section 6(a) may not be enforced against an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. Nor may §6(b); that is, such a person may not be excluded pursuant to §6(b), even if the 50,000 person cap has been reached or exceeded. As applied to all other individuals, the provisions may take effect.
Accordingly, the petitions for certiorari are granted, and the stay applications are granted in part.
When a decision is left to officers on the border to determine a credible claim of “bona fide relationship”, strange — and unfair — things happen. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was detained twice after the first Muslim Ban was introduced by the Executive Order of President Trump. He is an African-American, and he is not from those six designated Muslim countries that are part of the ban — but he is a Muslim. Even his mother, Muhammad Ali’s former wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, had to produce photos with Muhammad Ali for her to be released. Traveling while Muslim is becoming as distinct a phenomenon as walking while black.
Muslims already face discriminatory questions at the border, including American citizens, and not just those from the six countries on the list. This decision will empower bigots who will take it upon themselves, whether required or not, to harass American Muslims at the border even more. This is in spite of the fact that this ruling has nothing to do with American citizens.
I personally experienced this a few years ago. I had just been elected Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions when I landed in Los Angeles from Melbourne, Australia on my way to home in Chicago. I had my handwritten and typed notes of the lectures I had delivered and several gifts of books by different faith communities. The immigration officer closed the lane and asked me to follow him. All my stuff was taken out on the long counter as they poured through my papers.
Eventually, more officers surrounded me and my papers, totaling five or six. Their lack of basic common sense surprised me. The main line of questioning was asking if the authors of those books were Muslim. A book gifted to me by Sikhs from the U.K. was of special interest. They kept asking if these are Muslims. I explained to them what Sikhism is, but of no benefit. I had a one inch thick program book. They became interested in the photo of a clean-shaven white Lutheran who had just retired as Chair of the Parliament. They asked me if he is a Muslim. I kept saying he is a Lutheran but they kept asking me if he is a Muslim. Finally I had to tell them that he is not a Muslim. Their main obsession seemed to be not me as a Muslim, which was probably the reason they picked me from the line, but whether my books and papers were written by or related to Muslims.
Let me be clear: There are many smart, professional officers who treat you decently, like a human being, and even say ‘welcome home’ sometimes.
But leaving the determination of the credibility of a “bona fide relationship” is not only discriminatory and unconstitutional since it focuses only on Muslims, but it is outright impractical, as the three conservative judges pointed out in their note to the Supreme Court’s otherwise unanimous decision. If the top legal brains sitting in the Supreme Courts cannot do it right, we cannot expect overworked, understaffed agents at the border to get it right.
Some may argue that the Court’s stipulations are specific enough to prevent selective discrimination at the border. After all, a “bona fide relationship” such as having relatives, a job, or university admission in the U.S. can be identified by border agents. But this notion underestimates the gravity of the situation, particularly for refugees.
We are seeing the worst refugee crisis in modern history. Millions of these refugees endure hunger, illness, human trafficking, and unthinkable trauma.
If these refugees are denied entry despite possessing a “bona fide relationship”? Who will they turn to? They have no capacity to acquire legal counsel, let alone a file a law suit.
The father of Anne Frank once fought valiantly to save his family from death in Nazi Germany, but they were denied a U.S. visa despite two year long struggle documented in 80 pages thick file of their case. Sadly, many of today’s refugees do not even have an advocate like Otto Frank, as the death and destruction they are fleeing from has already afflicted their families. Relying on the Supreme Court’s provisions as a way to ensure fair and just treatment at the border is naïve and dangerous.
This is why I have already signed up for an amici brief on similar lines for the Supreme Court. Once the Supreme Court hears the full argument this fall, it will be able to determine that not only does the Muslim Ban violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, but that determining the credibility of a “bona fide relationship” was not a fair assignment for the administration, which has made clear its intentions to bar all Muslims from entering the U.S.
Imam Malik Mujahid is President of Sound Vision and co-chair of One America Coalition.