Daily Engagement: Keep an Eye Out for CAIR’s “Register Me First;” Donate to the International Rescue Committee


Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.

Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.

What’s the issue?

Donald Trump’s first “Muslim ban” executive order — barring entry into the U.S. for people from seven Muslim-majority countries — was, to use one of Trump’s favorite adjectives, a disaster. It was such a disaster that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals quickly ruled against it, effectively torpedoing the order less than two weeks after it had been issued.

But today, despite mass protests and blistering disapproval from politicians, Trump has essentially re-released the same disaster, in the apparent belief that America is willing to settle for a hateful order that is granularly less hateful than its predecessor. Going into effect on March 16 (a slightly delayed date to prevent the airport fiasco that happened after the first order, which went into effect immediately), a revised order will now bar entry for people from six Muslim-majority nations (Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen — Iraq has been removed from the Trump shitlist) for 90 days, with, per Mother Jones, new “exceptions for people who are legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals with US citizenship, people attending diplomatic missions, and people who have already been granted asylum or refugee status.” Like the first, the new ban will bar admission of refugees from any part of the world for 120 days — and will thereafter cut annual refugee entry from 110,000 to 50,000. (In this 120 day period, “case-by-case” exceptions will be made.)

Despite the new order being a softened version of the moral reprehensibility of the original that also attempts to seal up legal loopholes, it may also be unconstitutional. Mark Joseph Stern writes for Slate:

The new order removes the most problematic language in the original ban, which explicitly prioritized the entry of refugees who faced “religious-based persecution” only if “the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” This caveat made the order look a lot like the Muslim ban Trump promised throughout his campaign. In practice, it favored Christian refugees over Muslim refugees…With this troubling provision gone, a religious discrimination challenge to the order becomes more difficult, though not impossible. The Establishment Clause unambiguously prohibits government action that favors one religious denomination over another, while equal protection forbids invidious discrimination on the basis of religion.

The ACLU’s National Legal Director David Cole similarly said that the “tweaked” order “violates the establishment cause in the same way that the initial ban violated the establishment clause — that is it… disfavors one particular religion.” He continued:

The claim is that it’s protecting our national security. When the initial ban was put out, the nation’s national security establishment called that claim into question: George Bush’s head of the NSA and the CIA condemned the ban as exactly the wrong way to go about it. It plays into ISIS’s hands, reinforcing the storyline of the United States versus Islam. Trump’s own DHS has released two reports in the last week-and-a-half, both of which conclude that targeting these countries for a ban on entry is not a proper national security measure.

He notes that an ACLU lawsuit from Brooklyn led to the “first order blocking the ban.” He said they’re expecting to return to court with new complaints reflecting the new order, saying, “for the same reason that the initial executive order violates the Establishment clause, this one does too.”

Bernie Sanders released a statement on his website, echoing that racist policy like this only works against national security:

Let’s call it what it is. This ban is a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to divide us up. A president who respected our traditions of religious freedom would not have resorted to hateful, anti-Islamic rhetoric to justify a ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries. Even the Department of Homeland Security has said that citizenship is not a factor in terrorist threats. This isn’t about keeping America safe. A president responsible for keeping our citizens safe would not hand over ideological ammunition to terrorists seeking new recruits to kill Americans.

What can you do?

CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has announced that it will be holding a news conference today (at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) to address the “Muslim Ban 2.0” order, with a live stream on their Facebook page. CAIR National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri said in a statement:

As Trump administration officials have stated, this ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ – which has been debunked by the Department of Homeland Security – appears to be merely a retooled order aimed at the same long-stated goal of banning Muslims from entering the United States.

CAIR says that at the news conference, they’ll be officially launching a new platform called “Register Me First” (#RegisterMeFirst), which “will provide an opportunity for anyone who wants to oppose the Muslim ban, any future Muslim registry or other unconstitutional actions by the Trump administration to join the broader movement challenging those unjust policies”; that’d be a good place to look first for ideas on opposition to the new ban. (Donate here.)

The International Rescue Committee — a leading refugee resettlement nonprofit — is another organization immediately speaking out against this new policy, noting that the executive order is “narrowed to exclude the most vetted, most vulnerable;” they’re another group to donate to if you have the funds, and to follow for guidance on how to help.

Meanwhile, the ACLU already has an email form you can use (with both required and editable text) to write to your Senators to oppose the Muslim ban. (Donate here.)