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My distinguished colleague and immigration law scholar, Nolan Rappaport, has posted a video in this week's Letters section of Immigration Daily based on the theme that Muslim immigrants and their children may soon form a majority in the heart of Europe and impose Sharia law on that continent, extinguishing democracy. The video, which was produced by CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network), founded by the well known controversial right wing televangelist, Pat Robertson, features an interview with the leader of an Islamic group in Belgium who wants to do exactly that and who claims to speak for all European Muslims.
The video, however, also makes clear that his group is a small one that does not represent the overwhelming Muslim majority, whom he accuses of "not being real Muslims" because of their more secular views. The clear intent of the video is to stoke fears that if Europe admits more Muslim refugees, democracy on that continent could be extinguished as early as by 2030 and replaced by a Muslim "fascist ideology", in the words of a non-Muslim commentator who also appears in the video. For the link to the video, please go to Nolan's above-mentioned letter.
Fears that Muslim immigrants might impose Sharia law in the US have also been expressed in some state legislatures, and may very possibly have led to Donald Trump's win in the February 9 New Hampshire primary. According to the Huffington Post, two thirds of all Republican voters in that primary, including many who did not actually support Trump, stated in exit polls that they favor his proposed ban on admitting any Muslims to the United States.
Coincidentally, the New Hampshire presidential primary was, according to the Huffington Post and other reports, the first one in American history that was won by a Jewish candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
It goes without saying that America has a long and unenviable history of prejudice against Jewish immigrants, including accusations that they also wanted to impose foreign ideologies, ranging from everything to Communism to "International Zionism" on America. Accusations that Jews favored "imposing Talmudic law" have not been absent from this infamous legacy of hate and abuse.
Nor is anti-Semitism entirely a thing of the past in America. On February 9, the same day as the New Hampshire primaries, the National Rifle Association came under fire because on of its board members, Ted Nugent, posted a number of vile, openly anti-Semitic photos and comments, which are too despicable to be repeated here verbatim, on his Facebook page alleging that some prominent Jews were behind gun control.
With the above as background, it is interesting and instructive to note that the traditional religious legal systems of both Jews and Muslims, two of America's most persecuted immigrant groups, past and present, not only have many common features, but also a long history of interaction with and influence upon each other.
I also want to make clear that my references to Islamic Law, or Sharia Law, are to the real Islamic Law as developed by Muslim jurists and legal scholars over a period of more than a thousand years, not the violent, perverted and barbaric travesties of this system now being used as instruments of murder, torture and oppression by ISIS and other extremist groups and even government officials in certain Muslim countries which shall not be named.
For a fuller explanation, i turn to an article in the Jewish Virtual Library called: Jewish and Islamic Law, A Comparative Review: The Relationship between Jewish and Islamic Law
The next part of this series will show how much these two legal traditions, which have been the objects of so much veneration as well as criticism, misunderstanding and prejudice in the past and present, have in common.
To be continued in Part 2.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds obtain work visas and green cards. His email address is email@example.com
Updated 02-10-2016 at 11:33 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Update: February 9 at 9:09 pm:
Based on early returns from the New Hampshire presidential primary, Huffington Post is running a headline:
"NH goes racist, sexist, xenophobic"
As explained in more detail in my comments below about the candidate who is now the projected winner of the NH Republican primary, the headline might well have added "and pro-torture".
There may be a very dark time, one of the darkest in our entire history, in store for the future of US immigration, and for the future of America.
Huffpost also reports that according to exit polls, two thirds of NH Republican voters support their leading candidate's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the US.
There will be some people who, inevitably, will draw a comparison with another politician in a certain European country who came to power more than 80 years ago in a free and open election by targeting another group of people belonging to an older faith that is not entirely unrelated to Islam and which recognizes the same patriarch, Abraham, as Muslims do.
There may be a silver lining, however. Ohio Governor John Kasich, virtually the only Republican presidential candidate (other than the hapless Jeb Bush) who has not tried to divide America by exploiting anti-immigrant hate, appears to be coming in second in New Hampshire - a possible ray of sanity in the gloomy Republican 2016 immigration-related presidential picture.
Again, I will repeat my disclaimer: It is not the purpose of my comments to endorse any candidate, of any party, for president or any other elected office. However, this does not prevent my expressing disagreement with certain positions that one or more candidates may have taken at various times on immigration-related issues.
My original comment follows:
The following post has been completely revised and rewritten as of February 8 at 9:23 am.
While the media, as usual, focused on trivia in the February 6 Republican presidential debate, such as whether Iowa third place finisher Sen Marco Rubio (Florida) repeated the same canned line about President Obama too many times, a much more disturbing feature has also emerged from the debate.
This is that all three of the Iowa front runners, Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) and Donald Trump, have endorsed the use of torture in one form or another.
Donald Trump, not surprisingly, was the most outspoken, direct and extreme in his endorsement of torture. One at least has to give him credit for his honesty, compared with opponents such as Cruz, who stuck to the devious and utterly discredited G. W. Bush administration line that waterboarding is OK because it is somehow "not really" torture.
However, Trump's enthusiasm for endorsing torture of every variety far outweighed his respect for even the most elementary human rights, or for US and international law prohibiting torture in all its hideous forms.
When asked if he would bring back waterboarding, Trump replied that he would do things that are "a helluva lot worse" than that. Trump tried to justify this by pointing out to the "medieval" style head chopping being carried out against Christians (and other Muslims) today by ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups.
While no one can argue against Trump's description of these groups as engaging in medieval barbarity, his reference to medieval head chopping is highly one-sided and selective. There is ample historical evidence to show that cutting off the heads of Muslims, or even other Christians who did not share their particular religious views, was widely and enthusiastically engaged in by Christian Crusaders during the Middle Ages. Head slicing in the name of religion was by no means only a Muslim practice.
This, of course, is not to mention Crusader massacres of European Jews, which it would not be unreasonable to regard as a prelude to the Holocaust more than 800 years later.
Trump's endorsement of torture was of course based on the assumption that it is necessary in order to fight against terror groups such as ISIS. In the same way, Rubio has endorsed torture by recommending that suspected terrorists should be sent to Guantanamo where we can "find out everything they know".
Cruz, as usual, was more devious and legalistic, since he would use only waterboarding, not any other method, and then, only under the supervision of higher up officials (maybe the Fuehrer himself?), not lower level torturers.
But if torture ever comes back into use against suspected terrorists, how can anyone be sure that it will not be used for other purposes as well? For example both Trump and Cruz place the highest priority on mass deportation of 11 million unauthorized immigrants. It is no secret that much, if not most, of their popularity is based on their promises to reduce the number of Latino and other minority non-citizens in the US and prevent additional ones from coming here.
If torture can be used against suspected terrorists, why can it not also be used in the service of mass deportation? Could America one day become a country in which "illegal immigrants" (or even their "anchor babies") are waterboarded (or even "a helluva lot worse") in order to find out where other illegal immigrants whom they might know are hiding so they can be deported too?
And why limit the torture to immigrants? Under current law, it is a crime for US citizens to "harbor" unauthorized immigrants or smuggle them in. Legislation which House Republicans have been introducing with some regularity over the past decade or so would greatly expand the criminal responsibility of US citizens for giving assistance to immigrants who are in this country without legal status.
Why not torture these US citizens too? These would be good questions to ask Donald Trump or any other candidate who supports torture in any of its forms. Megyn Kelley, are you watching?
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from many different parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds obtain work visas and green cards.
Roger believes that prejudice or human rights violations against any group of immigrants are a danger to the rights of all immigrants, as well as to those of US citizens, and to the foundations of our democracy. Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 02-10-2016 at 08:01 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
I will begin with a disclaimer. It is not the purpose of my comments to support or endorse any presidential candidate in this year's election cycle, or to take any sides in this contest. This is especially true with regard to the Democratic primary, about which I have had nothing to say and am unlikely to have reason to say anything about in the future, absent some major and unexpected development regarding immigration policy on the part of one or both of the remaining candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (However, see "Comments", below.)
Nor is it my intention to take sides in the Republican presidential primary. (Again this is subject to a remark I have made in "Comments", below.)
However, I believe that there are certain connections between positions that some of the Republican candidates have taken on immigration policy and larger issues affecting the basic rights of American citizens, not only immigrants, and the survival of our democracy itself, which deserve discussion.
One such issue, clearly, is raised by Donald Trump's call to ban all Muslims in the entire world from entering the United States until further notice (from him, of course). Trump has never specifically clarified this proposal to state whether his ban would also include Muslims who are American citizens, something that would raise enormous First Amendment problems.
Even with such a qualification, banning foreign citizens from coming to the US solely on the basis of religion would arguably not be without effect on the rights of US citizens belonging to the same faith. See the US Supreme Court decision in Kleindienst v. Mandel, (1972).
In the above light, it is useful to compare the positions of some of the Republican presidential candidates on immigration policy with their views on another issue which goes to the heart of American democracy, namely the ban on using torture. The following will show that with one principled exception, that of Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), support for drastic measures against immigrants goes hand in hand with support for the use of torture on the part of the leading Republican presidential candidates.
I will begin with Ted Cruz.
To many supporters of immigration reform, the immigration proposals which have been put forward by Cruz are anathema, as shown by the summary which appeared recently in an Immigration Daily editorial. Cruz supports a hard line against any form of legalization for unauthorized immigrants, and he also wants to reduce legal immigration.
However, on the issue of using torture, which would violate the most basic human rights of immigrants and American citizens alike, Cruz has shown a courageous opposition to this form of atrocity which none of the other major Republican presidential candidates has been willing to do,
To be continued in Part 2.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. His practice is focused primarily on obtaining work visas and green cards for skilled and professional immigrants, something he has been doing for more than 35 years.
Roger believes that immigration is, above all else, a human rights issue. His email address is email@example.com
Updated 02-05-2016 at 02:26 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Just in case anyone thought that Senator Marco Rubio (FL) is offering a Republican alternative to Donald Trump's Islamophobia, Rubio issued a February 3 statement denouncing President Obama for making a speech at a Baltimore mosque in which the president condemned prejudice against Muslims.
Obama is the second president to visit a mosque in order to speak out against anti-Muslim bigotry. The first was a Republican, George W. Bush, shortly after 9/11.
Rublio had been under attack from the right for supporting immigration legislation which would have allegedly made it easier for people to come to the US from "jihadist" countries.
In his comments, Rubio accused the president of "dividing" and "pitting" people against each other by claiming that there is discrimination against Muslims in America. He then proceeded to admit that there is such discrimination, but that "the bigger issue is radical Islam".
Rubio did not explain how the need to protect against radical Islam justifies discrimination against all Muslims, solely because of their religion, even when there is no evidence of any terrorist connection.
Rubio has evidently gone a long way from his previous support for comprehensive immigration reform in order to assume the mantle of Donald Trump.
For the full Huffpost story on Rubio's comments, see:
Updated 02-04-2016 at 06:13 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
In the aftermath of the Iowa Republican presidential primary, the media are outdoing themselves with speculation over whether the fact that Donald Trump managed to come in behind Senator Ted Cruz by the "huge" margin of some 6,000 votes, and that Senator Marco Rubio came within about 2,000 votes of overtaking Trump for second place has "destroyed" Trump's supposed "aura of invincibility".
While this may or may not make a good story in order to sell newspapers (or gather website clicks), there is a much more important and relevant message coming out of the Iowa primary for advocates of immigration reform. This is that all of the top three candidates have adopted an ultra-hard line on immigration that is not only opposed to any form of legalization for unauthorized immigrants, but also favors reducing legal immigration levels.
One has to go far down the list of Republican candidates who finished in the single percentage digits, all the way down to John Kasich, or even to ones who have already dropped out of the presidential race, such as Lindsey Graham, to find anyone who supports any kind of immigration reform.
It is true that all three of the top finishers in Iowa have some history of support for immigration. Trump has sponsored over 1,000 mainly Mexican immigrants for legal visas and has also supported immigration reform in the past; Cruz once introduced a bill that would have raised H-1B quotas which he is now trying to spin as only a "poison pill" to derail immigration reform; and Rubio, of course, was one of the authors of the 2012 immigration reform bill which passed the Senate.
But in their present incarnations, all three candidates are outdoing themselves to appeal to a primarily white, fiercely anti-immigrant Republican base. Except, possibly, for Rubio's support (in principle) for more liberal skilled immigration policies (while reducing family immigration, which would have a devastating effect on Latino and Asian communities), the differences between them are mainly ones of detail. The result could very well be to fracture the US electorate along racial and ethnic lines even more than was the case in 2012,
According to the Huffington Post, immigration reform advocates see this as something that could be good news. Huffpost quotes Frank Sharry, founder of the pro-reform group America's Voice, as follows:
"Our theory of winning is that Republicans have to get hurt in yet another general election before we have a chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform...
It creates a huge opportunity for the 2016 election...for Latino and Asian voters to be decisive in a way that makes the RNC autopsy in 2017 like the 2013 report but on steroids,"
Huffpost also quotes Todd Schulte of the pro-reform group FWD.us as follows:
"...electing someone who favors rounding up and deporting every single undocumented immigrant - is not only incredibly unlikely, but their mere nomination would prove a historical disaster for the [Republican] party..."
Whether using immigration as an issue to divide America even further along racial and ethnic lines, (and in Donald Trump's case, religious lines as well), is something that accords with this country's identity, traditions and ideals as a nation of immigrants based on equal opportunity and justice for all people, is something that we will no doubt have more opportunity to learn about as the 2016 presidential campaign progresses.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from many different parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds obtain work visas, green cards and US citizenship.
Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 02-03-2016 at 11:22 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs