President-elect Trump’s Proposed Muslim Ban Still Unclear Just Days Before He Assumes Office

Last month, in the wake of the terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market, President-elect Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he was rethinking or reevaluating his plans to establish a registry for Muslim immigrants and temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.  The President-elect responded to the press’ inquiries, saying “You know my plans all along,” then went onto say that the recent attack, for which the Islamic State later claimed responsibility, had vindicated his proposed ban.

Muslims and advocates across the country have expressed anxiety at not quite knowing what Trump means when he says “Muslim ban.”  A year ago on the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United Stated until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”  Later, Trump and his senior aide sought to soften the proposal, suggesting that he would support a ban on immigration only from countries that has been “compromised by terrorism.”  Six months ago in a “Meet the Press” interview, when asked whether he has rolled back his calls for a Muslim ban, Trump responded saying he had viewed it instead as an expansion of his initial proposal.  Today, the statement proposing a “complete shutdown of Muslim immigration remains on Trump’s website and the President-elect has yet to clarify how exactly he would address the issue as President.

Furthermore, senior Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, stated that Mr. Trump would not seek to ban an immigrant based on religion, but rather would seek a ban pertaining to “what he said later about it when he made it much more specific and talked about countries where we know they have a higher propensity of training and exporting and in some cases harboring terrorists.”  Such mixed messages have left Muslim community leaders puzzled and apprehensive.  While many people have interpreted the Muslim ban as an intention on Trump’s part to revive the NSEERS system, the Bush-era registry used to track Muslims and Arabs, which was dismantled by President Obama, others believe the ban could involve more severe repercussions. 

Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher, founder of the community center Islam In Spanish in Houston, along with other area Muslim leaders met with FBI agents in Houston to express concerns over Trump’s proposed ban, stating that they felt a registry would “take America backward.”  According to Fletcher, the FBI seemed to agree and were reassuring, insisting that America would not go back to the past.  Regardless, the community fears the orders and commands soon to be afforded the President-elect.  Once those orders are funneled down to a local level, will local officials act? The coming months will be telling.