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What we’re reading on the Muslim registry

Photo: / AFSC

President-elect Donald Trump has suggested he is considering "extreme vetting," a database, or a registry for Muslims or people from predominately Muslim countries. Carl Higbie, a former spokesperson for a pro-Trump super PAC, has cited Japanese internment during World War II as a precedent.

How would a registry work, and what can we do to stop it? Here’s what we're reading to learn more:


We must prevent Trump's "Muslim registry" before it starts by Tanzila Ahmed via Truthout

"One of my first actions in organizing the South Asian community was to drive around to South Asian grocery stores in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and hand out Know Your Rights flyers. It was 2002 and everyone was reeling from Sept. 11 and its backlash. Homeland Security had been hastily created and the USA Patriot Act had been quickly enacted. Mosques were infiltrated by FBI informants, and Muslims were put on no-fly lists and 'randomly' searched at airports. One of the largest security measures enacted was the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which required men who emigrated from certain Muslim nations to register. Before it was disbanded in 2011, the NSEERS program registered 93,000 people, and 13,740 immigrants were deported in conjunction with it. Zero people were prosecuted on terrorism charges."


Muslim American leaders to Trump: Protect our freedom of religion by Jack Jenkins via Think Progress

"'As American Muslims committed to the values of our faith and the principles that underpin our country's democracy, we write to express serious concerns about policies proposed during your campaign as well as announcements regarding appointments to your upcoming administration,' the letter reads. 'As our President-elect, one of your duties is to ensure our collective safety and security. This includes protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans to freely practice their faith, without fear, intimidation or reprisal." 


How Obama could make it much harder for Trump to build his “Muslim registry” by Dara Lind via Vox

"While Obama suspended the registry program, called the 'National Security Entry-Exit Registration System'” or NSEERS, he didn't fully dismantle it—so it's still sitting around for a Trump administration to dust off. 

But Obama still has time, before leaving office, to force the Trump administration to start from square one with any registry plan. And congressional Democrats are pressuring him to do just that: On Wednesday, 51 House Democrats signed a letter to Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking them to revoke the regulations that allowed the government to single out particular countries for immigrant registration.”


Of nine tech companies, only Twitter says it would refuse to help build Muslim registry for Trump by Sam Biddle via The Intercept

"Even on a purely hypothetical basis, such a project would provide American technology companies an easy line to draw in the sand—pushing back against any effort to track individuals purely (or essentially) on the basis of their religious beliefs doesn't take much in the way of courage or conviction, even by the thin standards of corporate America. We'd also be remiss in assuming no company would ever tie itself to such a nakedly evil undertaking: IBM famously helped Nazi Germany computerize the Holocaust."

"What We’re Reading" is a weekly feature on AFSC’s News and Commentary blog, where we share a curated collection of recent articles on timely issues. "What We're Reading" is meant to spark discussion, debate, and knowledge sharing, and the articles we highlight do not necessarily reflect the official organizational positions of AFSC. We encourage you to tell us what you're reading on these issues in the comments below.  

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