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42 Constitutional Law Professors Sign Letter Condemning Trump's Threats To Bar Muslim Immigrants or Register Muslims in the US. Roger Algase

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Update, December 25, 9:10 pm:

It it not only experts on Constitutional law who, as in their open letter to Donald Trump described below, are concerned about the damaging effects that his immigration related proposals could have, not just on immigration policy itself, but on America's entire democracy.

Just a little over a week after the election, on November 18, Human Rights Watch issued a statement entitled:

US: Trump Should Repudiate Dangerous Proposals

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/18/...rous-proposals

The statement begins:

Human Rights Watch again calls on United States President-Elect Donald Trump to repudiate the dangerous proposals he made and the divisive rhetoric he used during the presidential election campaign. Ten days after his electoral victory, Trump has tempered some of his rhetoric, but he has thus far failed to clearly and unequivocally retract any of his proposals that would either directly violate US law and universal human rights norms or harm millions of people."

Among the proposals that Human Rights Watch identifies as being dangerous to our democracy are two that specifically relate to immigration policy, as follows:

* Subject Syrian refugees, Muslim immigrants, and certain nationals to onerous vetting or registration procedures that could endanger individuals and prolong family separations;

* Conduct
mass deportations of 2-3 million immigrants;

In addition to these two specific proposals, Human Rights Watch condemns Trump's immigration related statements in the following terms:

"Trump has also failed to repudiate the racist, xenophobic...rhetoric that he, his staff, and segments of his supporters deployed during the election campaign and to the great alarm of many people both in the US and around the world...

Evidence over decades shows
where this politics leads: when a society supports curtailing rights for some people - refugees, minorities...governments will use this as an excuse, over time, to diminish everyone's rights and overturn the rule of law. Once surrendered, rights and the rule of law are hard to restore."

The Human Rights Watch statement mentioned above, and the open letter of 42 Constitutional law professors from universities throughout the United States discussed in my original post below, both show that when the basic civil and human rights of immigrants come under attack, the fundamental rights of everyone in a free society, such as the right to free speech, to equal protection of the law and to protection against torture, all of which Trump has also called into question during his campaign, are also at risk.

My original post appears below:

On December 13, 42 Constitutional law professors at law schools throughout the United States signed an open letter to President-Elect Trump condemning his statements showing disregard for rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, including but not limited to the rights to free speech, freedom of religion and equal protection of the law.

The following portions of the letter concern, specifically, the Constitutional rights of immigrants and the Constitutional protections for US citizens against having their citizenship taken away for exercising their right to free speech:

"For example, your recent threats to punish and revoke the citizenship of Americans who burn the American flag are flatly inconsistent with the modern cross-ideological consensus that flag burning is protected political expression - as the Supreme Court has twice held in majority opinions joined in by your model Justice, Antonin Scalia - and with long standing court holdings that the state may not strip persons of citizenship for being acutely critical of, or even being deeply antagonistic to, the government."

With regard to Trump's proposed Muslim immigrant ban and other possible actions against Muslims in the US, the letter continues:

"In December of last year you proposed prohibiting all Muslims from entering the United States...Although your exact position was difficult to pin down, your identification of an entire group of people for differential treatment based only on their religious affiliation, upbringing or belief raises extraordinary troubling questions about how your administration will understand the rights of religious minorities. These rights are expressly protected by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment, and respecting them is fundamental to our constitutional tradition."

In showing how thin the line is between depriving immigrants of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and taking those same rights away from American citizens, the letter goes on to say:

"Moreover, following the Paris terrorist attack last November, you suggested that you would 'strongly consider' closing mosques in response. We urge you to renounce this and other poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric, which threatens our First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religious exercise and the Firth Amendment's promise of equal protection of the laws."

Next, dealing with an issue which could have the most serious consequences of all, not only for Muslim immigrants and US citizens alike, but for any and all members of minority groups which might be targeted by American politicians or become unpopular with the US public at any time in the future for any reason, the letter warns:

"To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what h calls 'Islamism' as a 'vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people' that 'has to be excised'. Such rhetoric is shocking in its ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized.

And further, in a passage of critical importance, not only for immigration and citizenship rights per se, but for the survival of American democracy itself:

We continue to hear talk of a 'Muslim registry' being created by your administration - or an nationality based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out - and the Supreme Court's discredited
Korematsu decision upheld - the mass internment of Japanese Americans based on no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it."

A direct link to the entire letter is available at:

http://news.law.fordham.edu/blog/201...-donald-trump/

In reading the above extracts from the letter, it is important to avoid the misunderstanding that it is only the rights of Muslim immigrants and US citizens that could be at severe risk in the coming Donald Trump administration.

As the rest of the 42 law professors' letter makes clear, and as the citizens of a certain central European country found out the hard way beginning some 85 years ago, once the rights of an unpopular religious/ethnic minority group are taken away, it is not not long before the rights and freedom of the majority disappear as well.

The country I am referring to was Germany, and the minority group that was singled out for persecution (and, ultimately, extermination - something that is fortunately not even a remote possibility in today's America) was known as the Jews.

Could America be looking ahead to something similar beginning on January 20, 2017, only with the rights of Muslim immigrants and US citizens being the first to be taken away instead, followed before long by those of the rest of us in America who do not adhere to this religion?

As the rest of the letter makes clear, it is not only the rights of immigrants, and of Muslim US citizens, that are at risk in the coming administration. The rights of all Americans to vote in free and fair elections, and to an independent judiciary that is able to uphold the law and the Constitution, not the just the uncontrolled will of a one-man ruler, are also at issue.

In this connection, it would be useful to read the above entire law professors' letter - again and again.
_____________________________
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 of diverse nationalities and ethnic/religious backgrounds obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger believes that maintaining an immigration system open to qualified immigrants from every part of the world, and which does not discriminate on the basis of ancestry, skin color, or religious belief, is essential to maintaining America's freedom and democracy for all of its people, immigrants and US citizens alike. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 12-27-2016 at 05:41 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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