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Draft testimony

Religious freedom is a cornerstone of American society. The principle that government
will not treat people differently because of their religion is essential to who we are as nation. At
times in our history, however, we have fallen short of this goal. This is one of those times.
The President of the United States has said that this country has a, quote, “Muslim
Problem.” 1 He has called for requiring all Muslims to register with the federal government. He
has called for surveilling mosques. He has called for shutting down mosques. And he has called
for banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Indeed, in December 2015, the man who would become President of the United States
infamously called for a “total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States.”2
This was not an off-the-cuff remark. It was part of an official campaign press release that remained
on the President’s campaign’s website through the election, through the inauguration, through the
planning of the Muslim Ban, and was removed from the President’s campaign website only when
it became the focus of a legal proceeding about the legality of the Muslim Ban.3
The promise of a Muslim Ban was one of the most highly visible promises President Trump
made as a candidate. At no point--either before or after this election--did President Trump
repudiate that promise. In fact, after he won the election, President Trump explored ways to
implement the Muslim Ban legally. He even admitted that his proposed Muslim Ban had, quote,
“morphed into extreme vetting from certain areas of the world.”4 One of his own advisers told
the press, quote, “when [Mr. Trump] first announced it, he said, Muslim ban.’ He called me up.
He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.”5
And they did. Within the first week of the Trump Presidency, the White House issued a
flurry of executive actions aimed at fulfilling each the President’s core campaign promises. On
January 20, 2017−the first day of his administration−President Trump signed an executive order
directing all federal agencies to prepare for the repeal of Obamacare.6 A few days later he signed
All statements in this paragraph are sourced in the Amicus Brief of MacArthur Justice Center, Trump v. Hawaii,
Archive of Trump Campaign Press Release,
Amicus Br. of Nat’l Assoc. of Muslim Lawyers & Other Muslim Bar Assocs., Trump v. Hawaii (citing Fred
Barbash, Muslim ban language suddenly disappears from Trump campaign website after Spicer questioned, Wash.
Post (May 9, 2017)).
Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S. Ct. 2392, 2417 (2018) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting).
Amy B. Wang, Trump asked for a ‘Muslim Ban,’ Giuliani says--and ordered a Commission to do it ‘legally,’
Wash. Post (Jan. 29, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/thefix/wp/2017/01/29/trump-asked-for-amuslim-ban-giuliani-saysand-ordered-a-commission-to-do-it-legally/?utm_term=.84671a 57ed2c.
Exec. Order 13765, Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending
Repeal, 82 FR 8351.
an executive order directing federal agencies to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.7 And
a few days after that he signed an executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslimmajority countries.8
It is farcical to suggest that this executive order was anything other than a product of
hatred toward Muslims. But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Muslim Ban did
not violate the Establishment Clause’s guarantee of religious neutrality. That decision was a
sham. The Courts failed us, and now Congress must act.
The Muslim Ban had lead to unacceptable practical consequences because it permanently
blocks individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries unless those individuals receive a
waiver. In 2018, the first year the ban was in full effect, the State Department rejected
approximately 37,000 visa applications from the banned countries. In 2017, fewer than 1,000
were rejected.9 And the Muslim Ban’s waiver program has been a farce: During the first month
of the Ban, the State Department approved only 2 out of 6,555 eligible applicants.10 That
number has not meaningfully improved, as the Department continues to reject more than 94% of
waiver applications.11
The human toll of the ban is astonishing. The Muslim Ban has needlessly separated
countless families. Children--including U.S. citizens--have been denied access to their parents
and grandparents. Families have been denied access to lifesaving medical treatments. People
have missed the births, deaths, weddings, and funerals of loved ones.
I read the story of a young woman, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran, who was
forced to separate from her fiancé and postpone her wedding. The young woman met her fiancé,
who is Iranian, in 2013 when he visited the United States on a tourist visa. The two fell in love,
and she visited him several times in Iran over the next few years. In October 2015, they were
engaged. The two hired a lawyer to guide them through the visa process so they could be marred
in the United States, where the woman had lived since she was 11 years old. The Muslim Ban
prevented her fiancé from obtaining a visa, forcing the two to postpone their marriage
indefinitely.12 This is not an isolated incident: According to the Cato Institute, the Muslim Ban
Exec. Order 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, 82 FR 8793.
Exec. Order 13769, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, 82 FR 8977.
NO BAN Act One-Pager.
Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S. Ct. 2392, 2431 (2018) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting).
Exclusive: Only 6 percent of those subject to Trump travel ban granted U.S. waviers, Reuters (Apr. 4, 2019),
Amicus Brief of Pars Equality Center et al., Trump v. Hawaii, at 13.
has kept out nearly 4,000 spouses or fiancés, and has also kept out nearly 6,000 adopted children
of U.S. citzens.13
The Cato Institute estimates that, as of January 1, 2019, the ban has kept out an estimated 3,742
spouses and 5,542 adopted children of U.S. citizens.14
NO BAN Act One-Pager.
NO BAN Act One-Pager.