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KARAMAH Responds to New Executive Order on Refugees and Immigrants

KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights is deeply concerned with yesterdays revised Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States. This revised ban claims to recognize several of the constitutional errors of the original ban by excepting green card holders and current visa holders. However, it continues to infringe on the religious freedom of Muslims by unfairly, discriminatorily, and exclusively targeting Muslim majority nations.

As before, none of the six Muslim majority nations on this ban have produced an individual who has committed an act of terrorism in the U.S. The fact remains that refugees are the most heavily vetted groups of people entering the U.S.[1] If the premise of the executive order is to protect the nation from foreign terrorist activity, it is logical that there would be substantiation provided for why these six countries are now targeted. Likewise, while the ban references 300 alleged criminals who have entered the United States, it does not provide any actual evidence for them. One of the primary examples that is cited in the ban is that of two Iraqi refugees who were convicted of terrorism. Yet, in this revised ban, Iraq is left off the list. This inconsistency illustrates the massive disconnect between what the ban claims, to protect Americans, versus the reality.

Of immense significance, the ban Section 11(iii) indicates targeted data gathering on foreign nationals who engage in gender-based violence (GBV). While KARAMAH invites additional resources to combat GBV, it strongly objects to the vilification of refugee and immigrant minorities. KARAMAH’s position is that it is irresponsible and discriminatory to ignore the epidemic rates of all types of GBV in the United States and focus only on immigrants and refugees. We know that GBV is not specific to any one community, culture, or religion. The discourse that GBV in these particular immigrant and refugee communities must be examined promulgates the problematic and discriminatory narrative that GBV is a Muslim problem.

The relevant provision states that the Secretary of Homeland Security will gather data on numbers and types of GBV, including so called “honor killings.” To be crystal clear, in Islamic law, there is no concept of “honor killing.” This and other types of killing are explicitly designated as crimes in Islam and in all Muslim majority countries. Despite numerous examples of this practice around Europe[2] by non-Muslims, sometimes termed “crimes of passion,” the term “honor killing” has been unfairly associated with Islam and Muslims in the public square. Here, in this executive order that is focused on migrants from Muslim majority counties, this association is underscored, and we strongly reject it.

Furthermore, KARAMAH is increasingly concerned about data gathering, profiling, and surveillance in Muslim communities. It is well known that anti-Muslim sentiment, distrust of law enforcement and fear of discrimination are barriers for survivors and chills reporting GBV.

Finally, if this executive order is designed to protect survivors of GBV, it is not logical that refugees who may be fleeing GBV are not allowed into the country. By arbitrarily limiting the number of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 for fiscal year 2017, the executive order effectively bans the entry of any more refugees for the remainder of the fiscal year. Accordingly, this ban ultimately and unfairly jeopardizes the health and safety of women and children—who comprise roughly 70 percent of refugees entering the United States.

KARAMAH is a research-based educational organization that believes that this executive order and others are being used to advance a discriminatory view of Islam in America. We intend to release a thorough legal analysis of this executive order, and the ones preceding it, in the coming days. We must use our resources and knowledge to advance the just and gender equitable foundation of Islam, and refute efforts to malign and distort Islam in the public square.

[1] http://time.com/4116619/syrian-refugees-screening-process/ 

[2] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2007/385527/EXPO-JOIN_ET(2007)385527_EN.pdf