The Proposed Immigration Bill and Muslims

The Muslim Observer

The Proposed Immigration Bill and Muslims

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Medford (Ore.)–June 3rd –As the Chair of a refugee rights organization in Northern California for three years less than a decade ago, I am quite in agreement that the United States needs a drastic updating of its immigration policies, and a Bill in the Senate is debating the moment would do just that, but it has to be done right! 

Regrettably, reactionary members of the American national legislature are attempting to craft the reform into a deform – particularly for Muslims and South Asians and Arabs in general – through Amendments that are “tacked” unto it.

Fortunately, five of these Amendments were voted down within the Judiciary Committee.  But, unfortunately, the Graham (remember the infamous Senator from South Carolina of that name who authored the Resolution for the U.S. to declare

War on Iran at Israel’s bequest) 3 addendum passed. The Amendment requires additional screening for individuals applying for “registered provisional immigration” (RPI) status who are from certain regions or countries deemed national security threats by the Department of Homeland Security.  This targets those applicants from predominantly Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Middle Eastern regions, and is, succinctly, racial, ethnic and sectarian profiling.

In the end, though, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move the immigration bill out of Committee into the full Senate which is most positive, but the Graham provision remains to be decided at a future date on the full floor of the Upper House. 

Especial recognition should not only be expressed — by those Muslims abroad who would like to join us as Americans but to all categories of humanity that will be affected by this legislation — towards Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and

Richard Durbin of Illinois (both Democrats).            

To avoid the charge of plagiarism, I must “footnote” the fact that the foregoing analysis is based on a blog entry of a Keith Rushing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) defeated Amendments that would encourage racial (ethnic and sectarian) profiling in Title III of the proposed Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Act (S. 744) that were particularly Islamophobic.

The only onus Amendment, Lindsay Graham (R-SC’), that emerged from Committee, would permit additional screening for people trying to attain RPI (Registered Provisional Immigrant) status who are from certain regions that are deemed national security threats by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (e.g. especially from Dar al-Islam).

The objective of this amendment seems similar to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)–launched in the aftermath of the 2001 eleventh of September attack — that required men over the age of sixteen from twenty-five different countries to register at ports of entry and immigration offices for fingerprinting, photographs and lengthy interrogations. 

Incidentally, all on the NSEERS were predominantly Muslim nations except for North Korea. That program, such as the one envisioned here, was abandoned two years ago because of its ineffectuality.  In a word, those statutes that encourage law enforcement to focus on identity-based features in determining who to stop, investigate or arrest are ruinous to public safety!

The focus of Graham 3 is to target communities that are Muslim, Arab or South Asian for racial (/religious/ethnic) stereotyping in the name of national security. This is counter-productive when Muslims and others within these other categories have to undergo unreasonable prejudicial appraisal because these immigrants are amongst the very groups that have propelled the American economy and innovation into the Twenty-first Century since the immigration reforms of 1965!


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