Faith Groups Strongly Condemn Expansion of Muslim Ban as “Morally Reprehensible”

Washington, DC - Today, the administration announced an expansion to the Muslim ban that includes Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. It also bans individuals from Sudan and Tanzania from obtaining “diversity visas.”

This week marked three years since the Trump administration’s nefarious first attempt at a Muslim and refugee ban, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments in ongoing litigation against the ban. Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) and other senators introduced a resolution condemning the refugee and Muslim ban as well as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. In February, the House Judiciary Committee will mark-up the civil rights-centered No Ban Act. 

Also this week, the administration announced a new pregnancy ban on tourist visas for women whom a consular officer has “reason to believe” may be pregnant or could become pregnant.

Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) leaders offer the following quotes about the expanded Muslim ban. 

“Since 2017, families from the countries covered by the original travel ban have been frustrated time and again in their efforts to reunite with loved ones. The administration’s promised waivers for humanitarian travel are all but nonexistent. Adding more countries to this shameful policy will serve only to keep more families stuck on opposite sides of the globe from each other,” said Bishop Jaime Soto, board chair of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

“Communities across the country have been organizing against racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim policies such as the Muslim ban, and will continue to organize. We understand that an attack on any of us—especially targeted communities—is an attack on all of us. Urgent action is needed to protect the lives of people from countries affected by the ban, but instead the U.S. is continuing a dark history of legalized oppression. These countries in the expanded ban are mostly African, highlighting the ways in which this administration continues to target immigrants of Black and African origin. AFSC calls upon people from all faith traditions as well as those without religious affiliations to join us and stand in solidarity with the Muslim and African community. We will not stand for xenophobic policies that target and criminalize Muslims or any other communties,” said Mary Zerkel, Coordinator of American Friends Service Committee’s Communities Against Islamophobia Program.

"The Christian Reformed Church has long encouraged its ‘congregations and individual members to speak out against, and seek to reform, laws and practices concerning the treatment of immigrants that appear to be unduly harsh or unjust,’ so we are compelled to speak out in opposition to new travel restrictions placed on these additional countries. This policy change is not only discriminatory, but it also prolongs the separation of families longing to be reunited with loved ones and limits our ability as the Church to fulfill our biblical calling to welcome the stranger," said Rev. Reggie Smith, Director, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America.

“Today we hear that, again, our government will further limit the peoples who can enter this nation. We know that, with this announcement, families will remain separated, and those in danger will have no safe place to turn,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II,  Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),  “As Presbyterians, we worship God and that worship is guided by the teachings in Isaiah 58. We cannot please the Lord with fasting and prayer if we also oppress and deny others their dignity. Worship that is pleasing to the Lord lifts the yoke of oppression and shares hearth and home. We will continue to be faithful and demand that the actions done in our name do not further harm those who are oppressed and those separated by borders.” 

“Three years ago, when President Trump introduced his first discriminatory ban, we pledged to fight it at all costs. With the expansion of the ban, we remain as committed to that fight as ever,” said Reverend John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service. “We have seen the horrific impact of the ban on the refugee and immigrant families we serve, so expanding it is not only morally reprehensible, but contrary to everything that has long made the United States a beacon of hope. Keeping loved ones apart, simply because of where they come from, takes that hope and replaces it with despair. We call on Congress to defend our values and stand up to such brazenly discriminatory policies."

Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women, stated: “As Jews, we know what it’s like to wish others would respond while policies rooted in religious injustice are carried out. We know what it’s like to seek a haven and a better life in the United States. We know what it’s like to be turned away out of fear and prejudice under the guise of ‘security.’ The Muslim Ban is an affront to these Jewish values and the U.S. Constitution.” 

“For Christians, the president’s travel ban is an issue of faith. How we treat people of different backgrounds, particularly immigrants and other marginalized groups, is a test of our faith in the scriptures. No family or community should be separated because of their religion or where they come from—but that’s exactly what Trump’s travel ban has done and what his expanded ban would continue to do. We must protect the rights of people of all religious backgrounds and nationalities to be with their families. The president’s travel bans have not been about national security, but have been consistent with his rhetoric vilifying Muslims and people of color in general. Therefore, we will continue to oppose the administration’s travel bans and urge Congress to pass legislation that prevents the president and future occupants of the Oval Office from banning people because of their religion or nationality,” said Paola Fuentes Gleghorn, the Immigration and Women and Girls Campaign Coordinator for Sojourners.

“Today, we remember in sadness families separated and hopes for protection dashed in the first refugee and Muslim ban announced three years ago. In our remembering, we are recharged to continue our efforts to ensure religious discrimination will never be allowed to infect our U.S. policies towards the refugees and immigrants our faith calls us to welcome.  Scripture urges we ‘set at liberty the oppressed’; not oppress the liberty of the world’s most vulnerable,” said Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries.

Stephen Schneck, PhD, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network, said: “The Muslim ban goes against everything that we stand for as Franciscans and against what Jesus and Francis of Assisi taught and lived. It is morally wrong to single out one group of people based on their faith. Our country was founded to be a place of refuge and community, not fear and hate.”  

“Enshrined and inherent in America’s founding is the assertion that all people are created equal. Muslim bans, no matter what new rhetorical flourishes are used to describe and defend them, are just that: bans on Muslims,” said Hannah Graf Evans, the Immigration and Refugee Policy Legislative Representative for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers). “No president should be able to enact such racist, Islamophobic policies – policies that blatantly target Muslim citizens, immigrants, and visitors – in the near complete absence of congressional action or oversight. Freedom of religion – and the first amendment – must stand for something.” 

“In our ever-evolving, interconnected world, the exclusion of innocent people has no place. President Trump’s expanded Muslim ban is anathema to the American spirit. Our common humanity calls us to meet the other with respect, guided by internationally agreed upon laws and informed by human rights, the dignity of the person, compassion and mercy,” said Lawrence E. Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. 

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Contact: Lynn Tramonte | media@interfaithimmigration.org | 202-255-0551