Detroit-area Muslim leaders blast Supreme Court ruling on travel ban


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Several Muslim leaders from the metro Detroit area have blasted Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling to uphold President Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.

Dawud Wali, director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), denounced the decision. “We believe it was based upon anti-Muslim animus, and it violates our constitution,” he said.

A lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan, the Arab American Civil Rights League, and other partner organizations to challenge the travel ban on the basis of anti-Muslim discrimination will no longer move forward due to the outcome of this ruling, The Detroit News and Associated Press report.

Nabih Ayad, an attorney who led the lawsuit, also condemned the ruling.

“The Supreme Court's decision today opens the door for bolder administrative action by the Trump Administration that would further discriminate against ethnic and religious groups,” she said in a statement. “This ruling deviates from policies that prior administrations have worked diligently to foster and promote.”

Michiganders from all walks of life have expressed varying degrees of frustration and disappointment over the travel ban, according to the Free Press. Arab Americans make up nearly 40 percent of the population of Dearborn, the highest concentration of people of Middle Eastern descent in the country according to the 2010 US census. A study released last year by the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding chronicled the significant economic contributions of Muslim Americans to Michigan. The travel ban could have a negative impact in that domain.

“Michigan’s Muslim community has many people from Yemeni and Syrian backgrounds. Both of those countries are facing terrible crises right now,” Wali said. “We have people in our community who have loved ones who aren’t able to come to the U.S. because of this Muslim travel ban. There are innocent children and minors that are stuck abroad or are in refugee camps and cannot reunite with their loved ones.”

With Michigan’s congressional elections on the horizon, Muslim American political candidates also issued statements on the ruling today. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Abdul El-Sayed called the Trump administration, “an agent of hatred, discrimination, and outright cruelty,” adding that the decision is leading the nation on “a dangerous path of injustice and inhumanity.” Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim American who’s running for US Rep John Conyers’ congressional seat, also decried the decision. “If those who seek to spread hate celebrate today, let them. This is their twilight,” Tlaib said.

In the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the third iteration of the Trump administration’s travel ban policy issued in September, which would place entry restrictions on travels from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Chad, all of which have majority Muslim populations. Chad, however, is no longer on the travel ban list. Travelers from North Korea and Venezuelan government officials and their family members are also barred from entering the country per the policy. Enactments of previous versions of the travel ban had been halted at the state level. 

The rulings come in the wake of global outrage over Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that’s resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents as they attempted to cross the border. It’s also drawn comparisons to another judicial precedent, Korematsu vs. The United States, the landmark Supreme Court case that deemed the detention of Japanese Americans in internment camps constitutional in 1994.

Chief Justice John Roberts cited that the latest travel ban falls fully into the scope of the president’s powers to mitigate the flow of immigration on the basis of national security concerns, The New York Times reports. Justice Sonia Sotomayor scrutinized the decision in her dissent.

“The full record paints a far more harrowing picture, from which a reasonable observer would readily conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith,” she wrote.

“Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments,” she concluded. “Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.”

Leaders in the Muslim community solidified their resolve and commitment in fighting the ruling. The Michigan Muslim Community Council, along with ACLU of Michigan and CAIR Michigan, will be hosting events in support of the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign. A rally was held in Campus Martius in Detroit on Tuesday.

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Eleanore Catolico is a summer intern at Metro Times.

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