Update, March 8, as of 11:52 am:

The intent to discriminate against Muslim immigrants and visitors because of their religion in Trump's new six country entry ban, which is so obvious as to be beyond dispute, based on the essentially fraudulent nature of Trump's terror justification, as well as the historical record of exclusion of Catholic and Jewish immigrants using similar arguments discussed below, raises serious Constitutional problems concerning freedom of religion for Americans, not only citizens of the six Muslim countries directly affected.

University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner writes:

"The constitutional policy is easy to understand. We might think that a temporary travel ban that burdens people from Muslim countries could be justified, despite unequal treatment on the basis of religion, by even a moderate security risk. We might also think that a travel ban with weak procedural protections could be justified by an emergency. But where the ban both burdens a particular religion and does so without giving people sufficient procedural protections, the security justification must be significant rather than moderate."


My original comment follows:

Donald Trump's new March 6 executive order banning entry by citizens of six (instead of the previous seven - Iraq having been dropped from the list) countries with close to 99 per cent Muslim populations remedies some of the more egregious abuses of the earlier, now revoked January 27 ban, but it does nothing to change the basic premise of the original order that people belonging to the Muslim religion in general pose an inherent danger to the United States and should not be allowed in.

The new order exempts US permanent residents from the ban and provides for waivers in the cases of other immigrants from the affected countries who also have certain ties with the US or urgent reasons for seeking entry, such as medical treatment, but it still blocks an estimated 150 million people in the six countries, almost all of whom just happen to be Muslims, from coming to the United States as visitors or on temporary work or student visas.

This is despite the continued failure of the Trump administration to provide any reliable evidence that citizens of the banned countries have actually been engaged in any acts of terror in the United States, something which seriously undermined any claim of good faith or justified use of presidential discretion in the original order, as was pointed out by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and other federal courts which reviewed that order.

A legal writer for Slate, Dahlia Lithwick, discusses this issue in detail in her article:

Trump's new travel ban is full of bogus evidence and sketchy claims

(I do not have a link - please go to Google to access this story.)

On this issue, I will let her article speak for itself rather than repeating her analysis here.

Instead of being based on any genuine threat to the United States coming citizens of the six listed countries in general, Trump's latest order reflects the same prejudices, scapegoating and demonization of a targeted religious group that led to the exclusion of Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the notorious 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, signed by President Calvin Coolidge.

This law barred almost all immigrants throughout the world (except from North and South America, known as the "Western Hemisphere" in that statute), but instead of explicitly doing so on the grounds of religion or race, it used the pretext of doing so on the basis of "national origins" - exactly as Trump is doing now in order to bar Muslims from the United States.

To give an example, in the 1924 law, the annual immigration quota for Germany, one of the largely Protestant "Nordic" countries favored by the statute, was approximately 50,000. In contrast, the annual quota for Catholic Italy was about 3,000, less than one tenth of the total for Germany.

The annual quota for Russia, where large numbers of Jews resided, was also about 3,000. (I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is likely to discriminate against immigrants from Russia - this could be one big difference from 1924!)

Asian, Middle Eastern and African immigrants were not exactly welcome under the 1924 quota system either. The annual quotas for China, Japan and India, fo example, were exactly 100 immigrants from each country!

No objective analyst or historian of that period could seriously argue that these skewed quotas were motivated by anything other than the most blatant kind of racial and religious prejudices, even though Jeff Sessions, then a Senator and now Trump's attorney general, misleadingly tried to defend the 1924 law as allegedly nothing more than a device to tighten the labor market in favor of American workers in a January, 2015 "Handbook" circulated to fellow Congressional Republicans.

To appreciate the full force of the ethnic and religious scapegoating and prejudices that formed the background of the 1924 immigration act, one has to turn to the work of the Dillingham Commission, led by a fiercely anti-immigrant Republican Senator, Paul Dillingham, which was active from 1907 to 1910, and left behind a monumental 41 volume report issued in or about 1911.

While it is obviously not possible to reproduce the entire report here, I refer readers to a comprehensive summary of its background and conclusions in a 1994 article by John M. Lund entitled

Boundaries of Restriction: The Dillingham Commission

University of Vermont History Review vol. 6. December 1994.


I will discuss the salient features of this report as they relate to Trump's current Muslim ban in my forthcoming comment.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from various parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com