Civil Rights Groups Seek Critical Information on Trump’s Muslim and African Ban

Eric Naing

Washington, DC —  Muslim Advocates and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking crucial information about the Trump administration’s recently expanded Muslim Ban. Proclamation 9983, which took effect last Friday, imposes immigration and travel restrictions on six African and Asian countries, all of which have significant Muslim populations. This new ban prevents more than a quarter of all Africans—including nationals from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country—from immigrating to the U.S. It likewise impacts approximately 180 million Muslims worldwide.

The FOIA request asks U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State to disclose documents, communications and other materials related to the expanded Muslim Ban as well as the “worldwide review” conducted in 2019 of countries’ security practices that allegedly informed the ban. The crucial information sought by the requests include:

Government guidance on how Proclamation 9983 is being implemented and enforced by the agencies

Information on how agency officials are assessing waiver requests under Proclamation 9983

Reports created by DHS regarding suspending or limiting foreign entry that led to Proclamation 9983

Records related to countries identified as potential targets for Proclamation 9983

“So far, the administration’s expanded Muslim Ban has only been justified by opaque and highly questionable, at best, security concerns. But we know that President Trump’s words and actions demonstrate a repeated hostility towards Muslim, black and African people,” said Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera. “The American people deserve answers about why and how the U.S. government is banning people of color, including a quarter of all Africans, from reuniting with their families and becoming Americans.”

“Almost three years to the day after enacting the Muslim Ban, the Trump administration  expanded it. Just like the previous bans, the government is attempting to mask its bigotry under layers of process,” stated Muslim Advocates Staff Attorney Nimra Azmi. “We are owed an explanation for this discriminatory ban that tears more and more families apart and damages this country’s foundations of freedom from religious and racial discrimination.”

“The expanded Muslim travel ban will result in separation and trauma for even more families around the world. It effectively bans immigration from four countries making up over 25% of the entire population of Africa, as well as two countries in Asia, all of which have significant Muslim populations. Our FOIA request demands comprehensive information regarding the development, implementation, and enforcement of this ban and complete details of the worldwide review conducted by the Department of Homeland Security that purportedly justifies this new ban,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “LDF and its allies remain deeply concerned about how this expanded ban will be implemented and whether the countries affected by it were selected as a result of anti-Muslim, anti-Black, or anti-African bias. The information we acquire as a result of this FOIA request will be critical for shedding light on this matter.”

“Two years ago, President Trump reportedly stated that Nigerians would never ‘go back to their huts’ after seeing the United States. In another instance, when referring to individuals from various African and Latin American countries, he rhetorically asked,  ‘Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?,’” stated Sam Spital, LDF’s Director of Litigation. “Now, the administration has largely prohibited immigration from four African countries, including Nigeria. The American people have a right to know how and why this alarming policy was undertaken—and today’s FOIA request is an imperative tool for making this determination.”

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