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Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

The Donald Trump administration in 2016-20 virtually overhauled Barack Obama's previous policies aimed at improving outcomes for people in the LGBTQ community. The White House during this period opposed, in particular, the Equality Act, which had been a top priority for the LGBTQ community since the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage law. Also, the Trump administration has argued in three U.S. Supreme Court cases that sex discrimination protections do not apply to transgender people.

Overall, the U.S. administration during this time period banned transgender military personnel from military service, refused to provide protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation for students and employees. All references to LGBTQ people were removed from the White House, State Department, and Department of Labor websites immediately after Trump took office. LGBTQ refugees were banned from entering the country, fleeing discrimination. Some of this discriminatory legislation was introduced under the guise of protecting religious minorities.

Immigrants, refugees, and generally foreigners from Asia and Africa were another target of discrimination during the Trump administration. The country has taken unprecedented restrictive measures against foreigners. As early as January 27, 2017, President D. Trump banned all foreigners from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) from entering the United States for short-term travel in order to combat Islamist terrorists by Executive Order 13769. This initial travel ban was revised twice, first by another executive order issued in March of that year and then by a presidential proclamation, "Strengthening Screening Capabilities and Procedures for Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public Safety Threats," which was issued on September 24, 2017. This latest proclamation added Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela to the list of countries subject to the ban so that the ban would not formally discriminate against Muslims. Despite a series of lawsuits, on June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Trump's travel ban from several countries. The court's conservative majority agreed with the Trump administration's argument that the so-called "Muslim ban" was designed to protect U.S. national security. The court found no evidence of discrimination or religious prejudice and ruled that it was an impartial, neutral policy justified by national security concerns.

In July 2018, the Trump administration further narrowed the grounds for asylum. Since then, victims of domestic violence, victims of persecution by criminal gangs, and those facing formal charges in their home countries have lost their right to remain in the country.

In November 2018, the Trump administration imposed a ban on asylum for illegal immigrants entering the country bypassing border entry points. The Department of Homeland Security has also pressured the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to sign "safe third countries" agreements, which require that migrants intending to seek asylum in the United States first seek it in those countries. In cases where an asylum seeker is already in the U.S., they will be deported to one of these three countries, but not to their country of origin, making it easier to deport asylum seekers in cases where they are threatened at home. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the U.S. government has indefinitely postponed all immigration court hearings, effectively leaving asylum seekers in Mexico and Guatemala stranded. This temporary suspension of the "safe" agreement with Guatemala came after reports surfaced that the U.S. had deported dozens of infected migrants to Guatemala. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional asylum restrictions were imposed. The new restrictions on movement, based on an order issued by the Center for Disease Control, allow the U.S. government to return asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, at the border. This travel restriction violates both U.S. and international law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued this rule without regard to U.S. ratified treaties, which state that even in emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has an obligation to protect refugees and asylum seekers.

In January 2020, the government introduced an additional test for pregnant women to see if the purpose of coming to the United States was to have a child, since under U.S. law, a child born in the United States automatically becomes a citizen. These and other government measures have actually led to an almost halving of the rate of immigration to the United States. As you know, President Trump has repeatedly spoken about immigrants as potential criminals. As for the natives of Arab countries, from his point of view, they were the source of extremism in the United States.

The anti-Muslim policy also included attempts to pass anti-Islamist legislation. This refers primarily to so-called anti-Sharia laws. Between 2010 and 2018, 217 so-called "anti-Sharia" bills were passed in 43 states across the country. In 2017/18 alone. 14 states passed at least 20 laws banning sharia. According to these laws, courts "shall not be governed by international law or Sharia law." This law was ruled unconstitutional because it specifically listed Sharia as the object of the ban and therefore explicitly discriminated against Islam. Many anti-Sharia laws then removed direct references to Sharia. Instead, lawmakers use different terminology, such as "any foreign law, legal code or system." The anti-Sharia law undermines the legal status of American Muslims. One of Oklahoma's amendments to the Sharia law reinforces racism not only against Muslims, but against Arabs in general. The amendment deprives American Muslims of the ability to use their citizenship for practical and legal rights, as the laws of several religions function within the broader framework of secular jurisprudence in the United States. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that the government must protect itself from the imposition of any religion and at the same time protect the rights of people to practice their religion. In other words, Americans may follow their own sacred laws if and when they do not conflict with secular law (e.g., a law banning polygamy). While many religious groups in the United States follow sacred laws and lifestyles and appeal to religious courts (for example, the Roman Catholic Church has some 200 diocesan courts that hear various cases, including marriage annulments; and, similarly, orthodox Jews appeal to rabbinic courts), the right of American Muslims to observe Sharia in areas such as daily prayers, fasting the month of Ramadan, marriage contracts, charity and investment rules has been seriously undermined by anti-Sharia legislation.

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