ACLU and Other Groups Ask for Emergency Hearing on the Muslim Ban from International Human Rights Body

The ACLU, joined by more than 40 other groups, is taking the fight against President Trump’s immoral and unconstitutional Muslim ban to the international stage.

Since the implementation of the ban just over two weeks ago, refugee and human rights officials around the world have been quick to remind the president that fear and xenophobia are no excuse for discrimination. Indeed, it’s clear that the ban flies in the face of nearly every single United States obligation and commitment under international law. In fact, it may be hard to find one it doesn’t violate.

Most obviously, the ban counters the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention, a landmark document drafted after the Holocaust to respond to the 20th century’s largest refugee crisis. The convention was later integrated into U.S. domestic law after the U.S. ratified the Protocol Related to Refugees in 1968. Even Ronald Reagan, a supposed hero of Donald Trump, knew better than to violate it.

This week, the ACLU and the International Justice Resource Center, along with more than 40 other groups, sent an urgent letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requesting an emergency hearing on likely violations of U.S. commitments under the charter of the Organization of American States and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. The commission — a human rights instrument tasked with monitoring and protecting human rights across the Americas — has a particular interest and stake in this case. Not only is the executive order intended to lock out tens of thousands of migrants from the seven majority-Muslim countries named, but the order’s sweeping ban on refugees also bars entry to Central American children feeing violence in countries including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The order recklessly and gratuitously endangers the lives of these unaccompanied children.

Just last week, the commission issued a strong statement on President Trump’s actions, expressing “deep concern” and “urg[ing] the United States to rescind” the unconstitutional executive orders that the president signed in his first week in office. The commission rightly called these orders discriminatory, and said that both in intent and effect, they “represent a policy designed to stigmatize and criminalize migrants or anyone perceived as a migrant.”

An emergency hearing would affirm the U.S. government’s obligations and send a message to the Trump administration that the world will not turn a blind eye to U.S. human rights violations for the next four years. If the commission holds a hearing, it would be in March, and the Trump administration would be invited to attend and defend itself.

This week in U.S. court, the administration argued that a federal court doing its job in halting a blatant violation of the Constitution, a core American principle known as “judicial review,” actually amounts to “judicial second-guessing” of the president. Even more appallingly, government lawyers argued that that review actually imposes a greater harm on the U.S. government than the ban does on the thousands of Syrian refugees, Central American children, and countless migrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries trying to enter the country. We strongly disagree, and so do bipartisan former national security, foreign policy, and intelligence officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Now we’re inviting the Trump administration to make that claim in front of the whole world.

When President Trump won the election, we warned him that if he implemented the policies he proposed, we’d see him in court. He did, and we sued. Now, while advocates fight the president’s Muslim ban in U.S. courts and millions of Americans take the fight to the streets, we’re bringing his policies to the international stage, and asking the world to weigh in.

If he does not heed calls to rescind the executive order, President Trump is moving the U.S. closer and closer to joining the sorry company of pariah countries and authoritarian regimes. Like them, President Trump has shown little respect for the rule of law, human rights, and the law of nations. He is charting a dangerous course for all of us. 

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