One of the things that we as Americans have a responsibility to do is to protect vulnerable communities who might be threatened by the actions of a Trump administration. As a country, we are founded on the principle of majority rule and the protection of minority rights. Two communities are especially feeling anxious since the election results two weeks ago: the Muslim American and the immigrant communities. Last week Trump supporters have talked about a possible Muslim registry and defended that by using the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II as a legal precedent. This has alarmed both the Muslim American and the Japanese American communities. Trump has also promised to deport 3 million illegal immigrants on his first days in office. He also promised to repeal the DACA and DAPA executive orders, which will affect 700,000 young illegal immigrants who are currently shielded by these orders. This has left many immigrants feeling anxious and uncertain about their futures in the United States.
The New York Times had an editorial criticizing the proposal to set up a Muslim registry. The editorial states:
On Wednesday evening, Carl Higbie, a prominent surrogate of President-elect Donald Trump, appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program to defend the idea of a national registry of all Muslims — an idea Mr. Trump floated repeatedly during his campaign, along with calls for an outright ban on Muslims entering the country, which legal experts said would be clearly unconstitutional.
To defend the registry’s legality, Mr. Higbie pointed to the imprisonment of more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor…
…many things that were hard to conceive of only two weeks ago now appear in a very different light. Mr. Trump’s vow to register Muslims is already on the path to reality. In an interview with Reuters last Friday, Kansas’ secretary of state, Kris Kobach, a hard-line anti-immigration advocate and top adviser to Mr. Trump, said that the president-elect was considering reinstating a national registry of immigrants from countries with active terrorist groups. The registry, which began after the Sept. 11 attacks, and was criticized for discriminatory racial profiling, was largely suspended in 2011.
These camps, the last of which closed in 1946, were a grotesque civil liberties violation and act of racial discrimination, which also turned out to be useless from a national security perspective. ‘Studies by a Government commission years later found that no incident of espionage or sabotage by any Japanese-American had occurred during the war,’ the Times reported.
To most Americans, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is remembered clearly as dark history, a national shame—and as wrongdoing that can never be justified, repeated, or emulated. And yet, 70 years later, in 2016, we’ve learned that President-elect Donald Trump and some of his biggest supporters might not buy into that consensus. And they’re not alone: Citing internment as historical precedent for contemporary discrimination against Muslims is more common than you’d think.
The latest incident came Wednesday, when Carl Higbie, a spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC, told Fox News that the president-elect could legally reinstate a Bush-era government registry for new immigrants from Muslim countries in part because ‘we did it during World War II with Japanese.’
…the United States issued a formal apology for internment in 1988, when President Ronald Reagan and Congress made restitution payment to 60,000 surviving Japanese-Americans. ‘For here we admit a wrong; here we reaffirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law,’ the president said.
It’s outrageous that Trump and any of his supporters would throw that commitment into question. It’s beyond the pale, and it should be universally condemned, just like internment itself.
The San Francisco Bay Area television channel KTVU 2 had an article in its website attacking the Muslim registry. It wrote:
Higbie’s comparison sparked outrage and a quick response from Muslims and Japanese Americans concerned about racial and religious profiling.
“We’re talking about our core values as a country,” said Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations’ San Francisco chapter…
…The Japanese American Citizens League also issued a statement saying, “Higbie’s attempt to cite Japanese American incarceration as a precedent for this type of action is frightening and wrong.”
UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Amanda Tyler says Higbie’s assertion is not correct. Tyler says in the Japanese American cases of Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, Minoru Yasui and Mistuye Endo, the court decisions did not make a ruling on this issues of registries…
…”Even people including J. Edgar Hoover the head of the FBI said there was no factual basis supporting these policies so there are both legal problems and factual problems with what happened during that period.” Tyler said, noting that the Hirabayashi and Korematsu convictions were later overturned and both men received Presidential Medals of Freedom.
George Takei wrote an important defense of the Muslim American community for the Washington Post. Takei wrote:
Let us all be clear: ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.
Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security. During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitates draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security…
…We cannot permit this invidious thinking, discredited by history at the cost of so much misery and suffering by innocents, to take root once again in America, let alone in the White House. The stigmatization, separation and labeling of our fellow humans based on race or religion has never led to a more secure world. But it has too often led to one where the most vulnerable pay the highest price.
In the meantime, Trump is a potential threat to the many young illegal immigrants who have been shielded from harassment by Obama’s DACA and DAPA executive orders. Francisco Goldman wrote for the New Yorker:
Under Trump, the situation seems certain to get much worse. As Axford explained, if border enforcement is overly stringent with regard to “credible fear” determinations, or if newly arrived immigrants are required to fight their own cases, without lawyers, while still detained at the border before border officials who are free to act at their own discretion, bona-fide refugees will likely be deported to the countries where they face persecution…
…In a worst-case scenario, Trump would use his executive action to implement the proposals made by anti-immigration organizations. “No more DACA, no more Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans and Hondurans who have had T.P.S. for sixteen years,” Plum said. Plum also worries that the government will view immigrants who have been arrested for minor infractions, such as turnstile jumping or carrying open liquor in a public place, as having “criminal records.” New York City became a “sanctuary city”—one that, by law, limits coöperation with federal immigration officials—in 2011. Plum hopes that other New York “rust belt” cities like Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Utica will follow suit. “Sanctuary cities are not just some kumbaya thing,” she said. The law and order promoted by Trump and Kobach “tear apart the safety of communities. It’s a strong law-enforcement tool when immigrants can trust law enforcement instead of fearing it.”
An illegal immigrant Miguel Molina wrote an article for the New York Times describing what a Trump presidency might mean to the illegal immigrant community. Molina wrote:
Now, with Donald Trump soon to be president, I’m uncertain of any protection for what my family has built, let alone for the future of so many families like ours. His election legitimizes discrimination against, and the dehumanization of, the entire undocumented community. I’m worried about my work permit. I worry about violence and the deportation of my parents and myself. I worry that my two younger siblings — both U.S. citizens — will be separated from my parents.
I fear that many conservative states like Indiana will push for harsher anti-immigrant laws, and that Mr. Trump will nominate Supreme Court justices who will rule in favor of harsh state laws like those that Alabama and Arizona passed several years ago. Although parts of those laws were softened or ruled unconstitutional, they were unprecedented in the power they gave to the police to check immigration status. Alabama’s law even allowed teachers to question students they suspected of being undocumented, and made it a crime to employ, house or even give rides to undocumented people.
That law was also an economic disaster. After it was passed, tens of thousands of people left the state, costing up to $10.8 billion in lost income and tax revenues, according to one University of Alabama study. Farms dried up, construction slowed and investment went down.
Julia Preston and Jennifer Medina wrote of some of the possible personal consequences for the young illegal immigrants if Trump cancels DACA. They wrote:
But with the election of Donald J. Trump as president, Mr. Roa and 750,000 other immigrants in the program, who came to the United States as children, have been swept up in a wave of anxiety, worried about losing the progress they have made and being forced back underground or even deported. Mr. Trump has promised to “immediately terminate” Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including the youth initiative…
…If their work permits are canceled or expire, immigrants could face cascading consequences — losing jobs, driver’s licenses, professional certificates and the chance to pay in-state tuition for college. The impact would vary by state. In places like California — home to half of all DACA recipients — and New York, additional protections are enshrined in laws. But in the South and Midwest where there are fewer protections, “people might find they really stand out and are targeted,” said Roberto Gonzales, a Harvard professor who has studied young people in the program.
The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote a plea for Trump to keep the DACA program to protect the 700,000 young Dreamers. The editorial stated:
…Trump also promised to “immediately terminate” Obama’s DACA and DAPA programs, which have been vociferously opposed by the GOP. As president, Trump could easily end both by revoking the administrative orders Obama signed to create them. He hasn’t sent any post-election signals yet on the programs’ fate, but picking Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) — a leading voice in the Senate for more deportations — to head the Justice Department doesn’t bode well…
…we hope Trump and Congress recognize that a broad deportation campaign to uproot millions of people who have been here, on average, for more than a decade would be impractical, unjust and damaging. Such a program would devastate families, weaken neighborhoods and destabilize labor markets in agriculture, construction and even white-collar industries where professional-class workers are on the job without legal status. Trump could begin to assuage the anxieties of immigrant communities — and embrace basic human decency — by preserving DACA as a bridge to true, and humane, immigration reform, and recognizing that holding onto young people raised and educated here would be good for the country.
In this video, George Takei voiced his opposition to the idea of a Muslim registry that is being suggested by Trump supporter Carl Higbie
A video of San Francisco Bay Area CAIR’s Zahra Billoo on MSNBC discussing the idea of a Muslim registry, hate crimes and a growing wave of Islamophobia
A video of a DACA student reacting to the possibility of President-elect Donald Trump rescinding the DACA executive order
Southern Methodist University students Jose Manuel Santoyo, an immigrant from Mexico and a DACA recipient, and Syed Rizvi, a Muslim American, discuss their concerns for a Donald Trump presidency the day after he was elected to office