During the course of the campaign and since the election, President-elect Trump has offered shifting policy proposals regarding the treatment of those who identify as Muslim.
He first proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Later, Trump slightly amended the proposal from a ban on Muslims to a call to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.” He further suggested a system of “extreme vetting” of immigrants to ensure that they “share our values and respect our people.”
When reporters questioned Trump about whether he supported a policy requiring Muslims to register with a government entity, he declined to rule it out and signaled support for the idea.
Perhaps more troubling than his proposals, Trump has surrounded himself with advisers and he has nominated individuals to Cabinet-level positions who have expressed opinions that civil rights organizations have deemed anti-Muslim and offensive. Many of these people will be instrumental in crafting the policies of a Trump administration.
National Security Adviser
Trump has appointed Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be the White House national security adviser. Flynn has described Islam as a “cancer” and a “political ideology” that the Founding Fathers would reject. MTrump has come under fierce criticism for the appointment, which does not require Senate consent. Flynn has been criticized for spreading false stories, re-tweeting anti-Semitic threats, dabbling in conspiracy theories and Islamophobia, for his questionable ties to foreign governments, and for mishandling classified information while at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a post he was forced to leave.
Shortly after the election, Trump appointed Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior advisor. Bannon ran Breitbart News from 2012 to 2016. The conservative news outlet is known for promoting a nationalist line that portrayed Muslims as a threat to the U.S. and which critics have called bigoted.
Department for Homeland Security Nominee
Many of Trump’s policies will be implemented through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Although the DHS was created to coordinate the battle against terrorism, it is now equally known for its immigration role. Trump has nominated Ret. Marine General John Kelly to run the DHS. Kelly, who is described as “hawkish,” has significant military experience in both the Middle East and Latin America. He finished his career overseeing Guantanamo Bay and described Obama’s decision to close it as “misguided.” Compared to Trump, however, he has offered more measured rhetoric on Islam, stating that U.S. troops “respect and even fight for the right of your neighbor to venerate any God he or she damn well pleases.”
Given his advisers and nominees, Trump appears poised to implement some of the policies he discussed on the campaign trail. Congress and the courts will need to act as checks on whether his actions are within constitutional boundaries.
Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) Dean Jackie Gardina’s extensive experience in higher education includes both academic and administrative positions.
Established in 1969, COL, an accredited nonprofit institution was founded to expand opportunities and broaden access to legal education. For more information, visit www.collegesoflaw.edu.