Human Rights First Welcomes the End of the Xenophobic Muslim, African Bans

WASHINGTON –– Today, President Joe Biden, in one of his first acts as president reversed the Trump administration’s ban on immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority and select African countries. Human Rights First, which advocates for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and opposed the ban since it was first introduced, welcomed this news and what it will mean for those seeking safety in the United States.

“We welcome the end of an era of blatant discrimination and xenophobia that blocked refugees from many African and Muslim-majority countries from seeking safety in the United States and kept families apart for years,” said Jennifer Quigley, director of refugee advocacy at Human Rights First. “We applaud the Biden administration for acting on its first day to end this policy which trampled on U.S. commitments to religious freedom, non-discrimination, and refugee protection and seriously jeopardized the support that the United States received from its allies, undermining our ability to pursue strategic partnerships and objectives.

“We also welcome the inclusion of the NO BAN act in the immigration legislation President Biden is putting forth. We look forward to Congress affirming the rule of law and committing to ensuring that discrimination against Muslims, Africans, asylum seekers and refugees is illegal.”

In 2018, Human Rights First, along with 26 retired generals and admirals filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court case of Trump v. Hawaii, a lawsuit which challenged the Muslim ban. The brief argued that the ban compromised national security by perpetuating the image of the United States as hostile to Muslims and Muslim-majority countries, fraying relationships with foreign countries and local nationals, undermining U.S. military operations abroad, and serving as a propaganda tool for the United States’ enemies.

In March of 2020, Human Right First joined with more than 50 former members of Congress, retired flag officers, former ambassadors, and national security officials to call on Congress to overturn the Trump administration’s bans on entry from Muslim-majority countries, African countries, refugees and asylum seekers. The letter laid out the humanitarian consequences of the discriminatory bans, including the separation of American citizens from their family members abroad, and exposed how President Trump’s orders were unnecessary and counterproductive to U.S. national interests.

Human Rights First looks forward to additional announcements in the coming days of what steps the new administration will take to undo Trump administration policies that ban, block and punish refugees for seeking U.S. protection. Human Rights First called for swift action by the family reunification task force announced by President Biden during the transition as more than 600 children remain separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy. The organization has outlined key policy changes that are needed to protect refugees and asylum seekers in its policy blueprint, “Upholding Refugee Protection and Asylum at Home.”


Published on January 20, 2021


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