On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order, known as the Muslim Ban, aimed at partially fulfilling his campaign pledge to immediately halt all Muslim immigration ‘until we can find out what the hell is going on.’ This Ban blocked the entry into the United States of thousands of refugees, visa-holders, and even Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. from seven different countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya). The Muslim Ban prompted swift domestic and international outrage. Some of the loudest outcry came from nationals of the seven banned nations who had valid travel documents, as well as their governments. These nations immediately began seeking ways get off of the new U.S. administration’s list. Eventually, both the original Muslim Ban and its sanitized--yet no less illegal--successor were blocked by federal district and appeals courts across the country.
After months of national and international outrage and consistent rebukes, a strong force in the federal judicial system, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii heard a case arguing that this executive order challenged the U.S. constitution’s Establishment Clause. United States District Judge Derrick Watson determined that this executive order, and even the modified Muslim Ban, was in conflict with the Establishment Clause. Judge Watson’s decision on March 15th, 2017 stopped the effects of the Muslim ban.
Nonetheless, the illegal Muslim Ban continued to affect U.S. foreign relations. The central government of Iraq, seeking removal from the list, reached an agreement with the U.S. to begin issuing travel documents for Iraqi nationals who are subject to removal orders--some of which are decades old. Iraq’s central government had previously denied these requests due to the ongoing effects of the U.S.-led invasion. In the ensuing chaos, Iraq was deemed too dangerous for people to return, even before the emergence of ISIS. For the individuals targeted -- the vast majority of whom came to the United States as child refugees in the 1990s and have never returned -- return to Iraq under the current environment would prove fatal.
ICE’s Actions in Nashville
As courts have consistently recognized, the Muslim Ban unconstitutionally discriminates. Why, then, are the deals produced by it still being used to target and harass communities who are already marginalized, like the Kurdish Community in Nashville, Tennessee?
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been targeting and harassing Nashville Kurds since Monday, June 5th, 2017. They started by going directly to community members’ homes, knocking on their doors until someone responded, and arresting people without any warrants to show. They soon escalated by following people around their neighborhoods and surrounding their cars, pulling them over on the side of the road, and harassing them, again without any warrants. Now, they have also started to visit the workplaces of the people who they are looking for but do not have arrest warrants on. When asked for a warrant, these agents hand over either a form for voluntary removal or write their director’s contact information on a scrap piece of paper.
This is not the way that a nation of law conducts the arrests of people of interest.
Stand With Us!
We are contacting you for help. We need to protect our communities from this harassment. We need agencies who follow the rules that they are supposed to follow. These are people who you represent. We need to know that you will do everything in your power to help us ensure that this will not happen again.
Photo credit: Chas Sisk / WPLN