“Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and the impending showdown at the Supreme Court are the insidious ways that the government has already begun to impose a Muslim ban.
It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy.
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The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilized by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.
That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 percent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 percent. Those figures will continue to get worse if these other provisions are implemented.
Finally, consider an embarrassing incident. An Afghan girls’ robotics team was initially denied entry into the United States to participate in a science competition. It was only after public outcry and an intervention by President Trump that they were granted passage. Situations like that are also likely to have a chilling effect on people from Muslim-majority countries, resulting in further decreases.
A Muslim ban, even when implemented through seemingly mundane bureaucratic processes, simply has no place in our country.