(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/21/15) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged national political and religious leaders to repudiate the â€œrecklessâ€ immigration and internment camp proposals made recently by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark and Christian evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham.
Paul suggested restrictions on immigration and visitation from Muslim-majority countries and reintroduction of the discredited NSEERS program. Clark called for internment camps for â€œself-radicalizedâ€ Americans and Graham recommended a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.
Their anti-Muslim proposals trended online and across the media over the past weekend in reaction to the deadly shootings that took the lives of five service members and injured one law enforcement officer in Chattanooga, Tenn.
â€œIt is utterly irresponsible for public officials, retired civil servants or faith leaders to use a national tragedy like the shooting that took place in Chattanooga to offer irresponsible immigration or internment camp proposals or to reintroduce failed immigrant registration programs that turn back the clock in our nationâ€™s history,â€ said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw. Â â€œWe call on other political and religious leaders to repudiate these reckless proposals and to take a stand against such reactionary anti-Muslim bigotry.â€
He compared the proposals to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and to the Chinese Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act of 1924, which banned immigration from China and from east Asia respectively.
McCaw noted that it was careless for all three thought leaders to offer such offhand bias-motivated policy recommendations that have serious and long lasting national security implications without having a complete understanding of the facts surrounding the shooting that is still being investigated by the FBI.
Details of the anti-Muslim immigration and internment camp schemes proposed over the weekend:
â€œIâ€™m going to have our subcommittee and maybe committee in Homeland Security look into whether or not we could reinstitute this NSEERS programâ€”it was entry-exit program that was heightened scrutiny for 25 predominantly Muslim countries that have significant jihadist movements and anti-American sentiment in their country,â€Â Paul said in an interview. â€œWe need increased scrutiny on those countries before those people come to our country to visit or permanently. We have to have heightened scrutiny.â€
CAIR notes NSEERS was set up in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, required nonimmigrant men and boys from predominantly Muslim countries to report to an immigration office to be photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed. Those targeted by the NSEERS program were also required to leave the United States through specified ports. Anyone who failed to comply with the program faced arrest and deportation.
Portions of the program were suspended in 2011 and in 2012 the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General called for a full termination of NSEERS as the â€œdatabase that supports this program is obsoleteâ€ and it â€œdoes not provide any increase in security.â€ CAIR and civil liberties organizations criticized NSEERS as being highly discriminatory and biased in its design and application.
In a MSNBC interview: â€œâ€¦I do think on a national policy level we need to look at what self-radicalization means because we are at war with this group of terrorists. They do have an ideology. In World War II if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn't say that was freedom of speech, we put him in aÂ camp, they were prisoners of warâ€ and â€œâ€¦if these people are radicalized and they don't support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle fine. It's their right and it's our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.â€
Internment camps held more than 10,000 innocent Japanese-American men, women and children during World War II. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 offered an official U.S. government apology and granted reparations to Japanese Americans interned, without due process, during the war.
With Clarkâ€™s â€œself-radicalizedâ€ quote being coded language for American Muslims, CAIR notes that with growing anti-Muslim sentiments and hate crimes across the nation it is important to remember that the U.S. government internment of Japanese-Americans in camps was one of the greatest injustices our nation has ever committed against innocent Americans and that such a crime must never be repeated again.
In a widely circulated Facebook post calling to block the immigration of Muslims to America Franklin Graham wrote in part that:
â€œEvery Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn't allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we've got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates.â€
In addition to Grahamâ€™s statement being Islamophobic and anti-Muslim, CAIR notes that it is also factually incorrect as the United States brought German prisoners of war to work on farms and other labor projects (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/german-pows-on-the-american-homefront-141009996/?no-ist) who were often treated better than African-American soldiers (http://worldwar2history.info/Army/Jim-Crow.html).
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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