The ACLU is calling for presidential candidates “to oppose the exclusion of [foreign] individuals from the United States on the basis of religion or nationality.”
The ACLU, through lawsuits, is already fighting opposition to the migration of Syrians into the United States.
“We challenge every candidate for the presidency of the United States to stand up against bigotry and division, to oppose the exclusion of individuals from the United States on the basis of religion or nationality,” says the Dec. 12 letter, which was posted on change.org with a petition for people to sign in support of the ACLU’s position.
The letter also references GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily bar Muslim immigration in order to protect Americans from terrorists infiltrating the homeland, until a proper vetting system is in place. “Since the tragic attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the world has watched some American politicians react with hatred, bigotry, and vile untruths,” reads the letter.
“They have exploited the politics of nativism and fear, using the atrocities committed by a few individuals to cast blanket suspicion on whole nations and all Muslims. America must be better than this. We are a nation of immigrants founded on the principles of justice, equality, and democracy. Our commitment to these ideals has not always been perfect, and it is horrifying to hear politicians use past examples of national shame, such as the internment of Japanese Americans, to justify discrimination today.”
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment which, if approved by the Senate and House, would allow Muslims who are denied immigration to subsequently argue in court that they are being excluded because of unconstitutional religious discrimination.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) voted against the amendment, arguing that it is one element of an “unprecedented effort to extend American’s constitutional rights and protections to foreign citizens living in foreign countries.”
“This amendment would mean, for instance, that the United States could not favor for entry the moderate Muslim cleric over the radical Muslim cleric. We have huge unrest in the Middle East. An argument has been made by some that we should prioritize resettling Muslim immigrants in the region and prioritizing the entry of persecuted Christians; this measure would forbid such considerations. Keep in mind, current refugee law requires us to consider persecution on account of an individual’s religion; this would ask us to discard, or undermine, that longstanding practice.”
Based on Sessions’ statement, the committee’s amendment and the ACLU’s letter are both urging for immigration-law changes that would make it difficult for Americans to exclude some categories of foreigners from the United States.
The letter follows the recent resignation of the ACLU Colorado Board Member Loring Wirbel’s after his call “to shoot” supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump before election day.