US Muslim leaders slam Trump's 'un-American' immigrant restrictions

US Muslim leaders slam Trump's 'un-American' immigrant restrictions
Muslim leaders in the United States slammed Donald Trump's decision to restrict access for immigrants wanting to enter the country as 'un-American'.
2 min read
27 January, 2017
Millions have protested against Trump's anti-Islam rhetoric [Anadolu]

Muslim leaders in the US slammed Donald Trump’s plans to restrict immigration from several Muslim countries on Thursday, a move that drew criticism from around the globe.

The head of the American Muslim Leader Council in Florida said the decision to ban refugees from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Sudan – all Muslim majority countries who have been affected by US foreign policy – quite simply stands against the values of the US.    

"We have not seen this happen in the past. Someone being denied entry based on their faith. This is not what the US stands for. So if I were to put it in simple terms, it's un-American," Imam Helmi Elagha said.

On Wednesday, the newly inaugurated US president revealed plans to adopt measures to limit immigration to the United States from the Middle Eastern and African nations.

Trump is expected to sign executive orders that will temporarily restrict access to the United States for most refugees at the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, the executive body responsible for immigration and border security. 

"From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights," said Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel at US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, commenting on Trump’s potential plans.

"But from a policy standpoint it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees."

During an electoral campaign defined by off-the-cuff remarks, hyperbole, controversy, and outbursts of Islamophobic rhetoric Trump proposed instituting a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US if he won power, a measure that he said would protect Americans from terror attacks. 

More recently Trump and US Senator Jeff Sessions, the new president’s nominee for attorney general, have hinted at focusing restrictions on countries whose emigres are deemed to pose a more heightened threat to the US, rather than a blanket ban on people from a specific religion. 

"His comments during the campaign and a number of people on his team focused very much on religion as the target," said Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration expert at UCLA School of Law, arguing that those who may object to the executive orders could launch legal challenges if all the countries included in the ban are Muslim-majority. 

If Trump does take such actions to limit immigration from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries he is likely to instruct the State Department to discontinue issuing visas to people from those states.