For Immediate Release
Jamal Abdi, 202-386-6408, Jamal@niacaction.org
48 Organizations Demand Congressional Oversight of Trump’s Muslim Ban and Extreme Vetting
WASHINGTON - On the eve of a potential decision by the Supreme Court on Trump’s Muslim ban, forty-eight organizations representing millions of Americans have signed a letter calling on Congress to take necessary steps to obtain full information about the Trump Administration implementation of it’s Muslim Ban and “extreme vetting” policies. The letter was signed by groups including the ACLU, Brennan Center for Justice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, and NIAC Action.
“We’ve seen the Trump administration pull out all the stops to institute the President’s campaign promise to prevent Muslims from entering the United States,” said NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi. “The current Congress has failed to engage in any oversight of the Muslim Ban, let alone all of the other administrative measures in place that amount to a backdoor Muslim Ban and which will remain in place regardless of how the Supreme Court rules.”
In the eighteen months that have passed since the Trump Administration rolled out the Muslim Ban and began enforcing extreme vetting procedures, Congress has not passed a single piece of legislation or held any hearings on the subject. In one of the rare cases in which some lawmakers have investigated the implementation of these policies, the State Department revealed that it was largely noncompliant with its obligation to issue waivers to persons banned under Trump’s Executive Orders.
The letter calls on Congress to mandate that the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report regularly on how many people have been impacted by the Muslim Ban and extreme vetting procedures. This information would give Congress and the public the necessary information to ensure the Administration is complying with the law and the Constitution.
“The Trump administration should be checked by both the courts and the U.S. Congress, but so far Congress has failed to act as a co-equal branch when it comes to the unconscionable Muslim ban,” said Abdi. “After a year and a half of turning a blind eye to a policy that impacts their Muslim, Iranian American, and other constituents, Congress must exert some basic oversight.”
Find the letter below:
June 13, 2018
Dear Members of Congress,
We, the undersigned organizations, represent millions of Americans who have been directly impacted, have had family members directly impacted, or are deeply disturbed by Executive Order 13769, Executive Order 13780, and Presidential Proclamation 9645 – collectively known as the “Muslim Ban” – as well as “extreme vetting,” which includes invasive probing into the beliefs, statements, and associations of visa applicants and U.S. residents. Unfortunately, in the nearly eighteen months since the Trump Administration began implementing these policies, Congress has not held a single hearing or engaged in appropriate oversight of them. The undersigned organizations call upon Congress to take necessary steps to obtain full information about how Proclamation 9645 and “extreme vetting” are being implemented, including by conducting hearings and mandating regular reporting from the Administration regarding key aspects of these policies.
The Muslim Ban implements President Trump’s campaign promise to prevent Muslims from entering the United States. The Trump Administration cites national security concerns as a justification for its ban and extreme vetting measures but uses intentionally misleading data and flawed methodologies to broadly impugn Muslims as dangerous. Reports suggest that Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to President Trump, actively pushed the President to insert baseless assertions about foreign-born nationals into official reports. Empirical studies examining the last three decades of vetting procedures have concluded that the pre-Trump Administration vetting system was more than sufficient to protect the nation and that the risk of vetting failures approached zero.
The availability of waivers under Proclamation 9645 does not cure its deficiencies. Section 3(c) of Proclamation 9645 allows for case-by-case waivers to be issued to individuals who would otherwise be prohibited from receiving immigrant or non-immigrant visas under the terms of the Proclamation. To qualify for a waiver, applicants must demonstrate that: 1) denying entry would cause the applicant an undue hardship; 2) entry of the applicant would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and 3) entry of the applicant would be in the national interest.
While the exact number of waivers issued is unclear without reliable information from this administration, it is beyond dispute that the number of waivers issued is a tiny fraction of the 150 million people impacted by the Muslim ban. In addition, the Administration has provided no policies, procedures, or guidelines governing the issuance of waivers.
State Department data indicates that, since the implementation of these policies, visas issued to Muslim-majority countries have plummeted. Activists have also been barred from entry. The social media monitoring that the Administration is conducting under the rubric of “extreme vetting” is chilling free speech, and the Administration has instituted these procedures without congressional oversight or meaningful public scrutiny.
Congress should mandate that the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report information on visa applicants impacted by “extreme vetting” through unreasonably drawn-out application times or outright denials, as well as on waivers from the Muslim Ban. Along with other details, reporting should explain the specific criteria for waiver consideration and denial.
Irrespective of how the Supreme Court ultimately rules on the constitutionality of the Presidential Proclamation, it is incumbent on Congress to fulfill its own constitutional duty to the American people to serve as a check on the Executive as a co-equal branch of government. This responsibility must be taken seriously and carried out vigorously, particularly under such extraordinary circumstances. Congress must uphold its duty by rescinding the Muslim ban, taking steps to end so-called “extreme vetting”, and in the interim, conduct Congressional oversight hearings, demand statistics regarding visa delays and denials and waivers of the Muslim ban, and further investigate the ways in which these discriminatory policies are being implemented.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Civil Liberties Union
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Arab American Association of New York
Arab American Institute
Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta
Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
CAIR San Francisco Bay Area
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Victims of Torture
CLEAR Project at CUNY School of Law
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Defending Rights & Dissent
Foreign Policy for America
Interfaith Worker Justice
International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Center
Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)
Iranian American Bar Association
Jobs With Justice
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Montgomery County (MD) Civil Rights Coalition
Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees
Muslim Community Network (MCN)
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Council of Jewish Women
National Immigration Law Center
National Network for Arab American Communities
Only Through US
Poligon Education Fund
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
STAND: The Student-Led Movement To End Mass Atrocities
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Win Without War
Yemeni American Merchants Association (YAMA)
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