This January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” known commonly as the “Muslim Ban.” Although the 9th Circuit Court has upheld the illegality of this order, there’s no reason to expect that this administration will comply. Woodhull Freedom Foundation (WFF), a human rights organization that works to advance the recognition of sexual, gender, and family diversity opposes this Executive Order and the Trump administration’s repeated attacks on refugee and immigrant communities. WFF has joined with other civil society organizations in calling for an emergency convening of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) to address this human rights crisis.
The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS, the oldest regional international organization in the world, was established in 1826 to strengthen peace and security, among other related objectives, in North and South America. IACHR was established in 1979 to ensure the protection of human rights in the Americas, and has the power to convene hearings in response to exceptional circumstances. The “Muslim Ban” is indeed exceptional circumstance that has significant impact on thousands of individuals and families.
The impact of the executive order remains unclear, given the vague language of the order as well as lack of guidance for implementation. The order has been challenged by a number of state and federal authorities, including former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired after releasing a memorandum barring DOJ attorneys from defending the order. As of February 9, 2017, the 9th Circuit Court refused to reinstate the President’s Executive Order, though President Trump has since threatened legal action.
Despite legal proceedings halting this order, reports indicate that the “Muslim Ban’ is still being implemented with devastating consequences. As outlined in the sign-on letter, at least 100 migrants, visitors and refugees have been detained and 200 more individuals have been denied entry into the US. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that this order will prevent the resettlement of 20,000 refugees in the United States.
This executive order is in violation of a number of human rights guaranteed to all individuals, regardless of nationality. As articulated in the letter, these rights include the right to equality, non-discrimination, due process of judicial protection, the right to seek asylum, liberty, freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of religion, freedom from torture or cruel and degrading treatment, and respect for family life.
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation focuses on a wide range of human rights issues, including the affirmation of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. The mission of the Family Matters Project, a WFF initiative, is to secure full rights, respect and recognition for all families by eliminating discrimination based on family structure. Family is the most fundamental unit of social organization, and can take many forms. In order to best support families in this work, societies must recognize the diversity of family forms and treat all – regardless of religious affiliation or nationality – as legitimate.