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Wash. Muslim Community Reacts to SCOTUS Travel Ban Decision

In her dissent, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor compared the travel ban to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. (Masha George/Flickr)
In her dissent, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor compared the travel ban to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. (Masha George/Flickr)
June 27, 2018

SEATTLE – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's travel ban from five majority-Muslim countries on Tuesday.

In the 5-4 vote, the supporting justices said the ban was within the president's authority to make national security decisions, and did not find his inflammatory statements about Islam as relevant.

Dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor compared the decision to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Jasmin Samy, civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Washington chapter, says her organization is disappointed, and predicts the ruling will impact people in the state directly.

"It's not just the travel ban," Samy explains. "The Muslim ban in itself impacts negatively the community that lives here. So, people don't see the rhetoric that's happening because of the Muslim ban."

The Supreme Court considered the president's third version of the travel ban, which includes restrictions for people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. The current ban also includes North Korea and Venezuela, but these two countries weren't challenged in the lawsuit.

Samy notes harassment and hate crimes have been on the rise since Trump's election, including in Washington state. There's evidence the travel ban has contributed to this spike, too.

A civil rights report from CAIR tied more than 460 anti-Muslim incidents in 2017 to Trump's travel ban, or nearly one-fifth the total number recorded by the group last year.

She says CAIR's goal is to ensure American Muslims in the country feel safe.

"One of the things we are trying to do right now, especially with this decision and with every executive order that's been coming out, is being there for the community, and trying to explain to them what they can do and what are the consequences," she notes. "And not just us as CAIR, but also our partners and our allies are really always standing with us."

She says CAIR and other civil-rights organizations are vowing to push back against the administration on this decision and fight for greater religious freedom in the country.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA