When Donald J. Trump announced that he would impose a moratorium on admitting Muslims to the United States, there was consternation, except by the plurality of Republicans that continue to vote for him, that such an approach to a major world religion was bigoted and violative of principles of freedom of religion – and anti-American. Then media reported that Mr. Trump’s perspective was the opposite of the inclusive, tolerant approach under President George W. Bush.
Such contrasting Mr. Trump and President Bush was a mischaracterization of the climate and politics in the Bush years. Say what he might, his administration was quite harsh in its treatment of Muslims and the courts backed his administration up. And President Obama hasn’t really changed much. For example, there was NSEERS, reports of all types of abuses, denials of visas and admission to the United States upheld by the courts, USCIS’s CARRP policy of stonewalling on cases of Muslims, and of course the story of my good friend, Abdul, deported and denied admission to the United States for no reason at all.
The new law about exempting visitors to certain Muslim countries from availing themselves of the Visa Waiver Program, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 is another example of different treatment of Muslims.
Recently I have detected an uptick in these negative policies. It is occurring in the sphere of the exercise of prosecutorial discretion and releasing detained aliens. An alien coming to the border and seeking asylum is ordinarily detained and evaluated for the credibility of his claim. If he is found to have a credible fear of persecution, he can be released. Recently Muslims appear to be being denied release despite a credible asylum claim, a complete absence of a criminal record, and significant roots in the community. Similarly, aliens detained by ICE who would fit into categories of people not a priority for removal or not even removable at all, are detained or not considered for prosecutorial discretion, when similarly-situated non-Muslims would be released. I’ve heard or seen this recently for Ethiopians, Iranians, and Yemenis. When religion is a predictor of negative treatment by the government, then we can surmise that the government is not blind to religion, but rather factoring it in heavily in policy decisions. As my grandfather might have said, Shvertz azayan Muslim. Posted February 21, 2016.