Excerpt below reviews recent Anti-Muslim federal measures:
After Sept. 11, immigration became a key national security issue. As a result, 15 federal programs and initiatives were implemented that target and discriminate against Muslim individuals and communities. These measures rely on a narrative that depicts Muslims as untrustworthy and in conflict with American values. This framing has justified the surveillance, racial profiling and violation of citizens’ rights and protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
There are two important, often overlooked measures that have discriminated against Muslims and Arabs: the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System and 2015 changes to the Visa Waiver Program.
The Entry-Exit Registration System, created by the Justice Department in 2002, fingerprinted, photographed and attempted to track all non-citizen males over 16 years of age from 25 countries. With the exception of North Korea, all 25 countries had Muslim-majority populations and more than 85,000 individuals were registered in the system. The surveillance program was implemented as a counter-terrorism tool, but the program resulted in zero terrorism convictions. Although all target countries in the program were removed in 2011, its regulatory framework remained in place for 14 years and could have been reinstituted at any time.
In December 2016, President Barack Obama officially dismantled the program. Obama was motivated, in part, by preventing the incoming Trump administration from reviving the program. One of Trump’s campaign promises was to implement a Muslim registry.
The attacks spurred changes to the Visa Waiver Program. The waiver allows citizens of specific countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. The 2015 changes exempted several Muslim-majority nations including Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria from these travel privileges.
Further updates were implemented in 2017 to target citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen and visitors to those countries.