In a preemptive move designed to protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans, Senate Democrats are prepping legislation that would hobble any attempt by President-elect Donald Trump to create a “Muslim registry.”
According to the Washington Post, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is preparing to introduce legislation that would block Trump or any future president from establishing a registry based on religion, national origin, nationality, or other classifications—an idea the president-elect and his staff have floated at various times. Co-sponsors of the bill include Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Patty Murray, Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey, and Mazie Hirono.
“Our legislation would block Donald Trump and subsequent administrations from infringing on religious liberty by creating an immigration-related religious registry,” Booker told the Post. “Forcing people to sign up for a registry based on their religion, race, or national origin does nothing to keep America secure.”
“While I know that this effort faces difficult prospects in a Republican-dominated Congress, this is an issue of fundamental American values, freedom of religion, and nondiscrimination.”
Booker acknowledged that passing the proposal is a long shot given the GOP majority in both houses of Congress, but insisted that protecting the rights of American Muslims is a bipartisan issue.
“While I know that this effort faces difficult prospects in a Republican-dominated Congress, this is an issue of fundamental American values, freedom of religion, and nondiscrimination,” Booker said. “It’s important that we make a stand.”
Although Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country remains clear, the exact dimensions of his much-discussed Muslim registry remain vague, and have changed over the course of the past few months. The business mogul explicitly backed the idea while on camera in November 2015, but his transition team later denied that he ever supported it. Yet his advisors have since endorsed a registry of Muslim immigrants, citing widely-condemned Japanese internment during World War II as precedent. Trump himself declined a chance to nix the idea after ISIS-affiliated terrorists killed dozens in Berlin last month: when asked whether he still intended to create a database to store names of people hailing from nations with a history of terrorism, he replied, “You know my plans.”
For his part, President Barack Obama recently dismantled the vestiges of a Homeland Security program that Trump could have used to form a version of a Muslim registry. And hundreds of Muslim American leaders signed onto a petition in December criticizing “proposals that would target Muslims based on religion and violate their Constitutional rights” such as a Muslim registry.