The new Trump administration plans to introduce “extreme vetting” of immigrants from majority-Muslim countries, according to a draft executive order leaked Wednesday to civil rights advocates.
The order demands a 30-day halt on immigration from several countries that have already been labelled as linked to terrorism under various laws, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. Citizens from those countries, designed by the executive order as “detrimental to the interests of the United States” could be turned away at entry points to the United States even if they have visas.
Trump has faced backlash from Muslims ever since he proposed a complete ban on Muslim immigration before the primaries began. Muslim students at Penn have expressed fear for their safety throughout the campaign, particularly after Trump’s victory.
The day after Election Day, Muslim students tearfully told President Amy Gutmann at a University Council meeting that they feared for their future in Trump’s America. Now, that fear has become even more real.
College junior Dania Hallak, who is Muslim, said her first reaction when she found out was gratitude that her relatives, who used to live in Syria, had already made it out safely. But she fears for fellow Muslims who might not be as lucky.
“I’m thinking of all those families who are just like me and are in my situation,” she said. “These are people just like you and me.”
The draft also requires visa applicants to be screened for their ideologies, blocking access to those who “bear hostile attitudes toward our country and its founding principles.” According to The Washington Post, human rights groups say the criteria for blocking access are designed for Muslims, without directly naming Islam.
College and Wharton sophomore Zuhaib Badami, another Muslim student, first felt “shock and surprise” when he heard about the draft executive order — he wasn’t entirely sure Trump would follow through on his promise.
He said the news is particularly scary for international Muslim students, many of whom are now afraid to return home for holidays.
“Their concern now is that tomorrow, Trump could wake up and add Lebanon to this list and all these Lebanese students are like, ‘Does this mean that if I leave the country I can’t come back in?’”
It isn’t just the new policies that have Muslim students concerned. Ever since Trump’s victory, the nation has seen an uptick in racially-motivated hate crimes, particularly against Muslim women.
Hallak said her cousin, who was traveling from West Virginia to Philadelphia, elected to drive rather than take a bus because of anti-Muslim sentiment.
“Because someone so anti-Muslim is president, people feel more comfortable expressing acts of hatred,” she said.