The Donald Trump Christian refugees statement on Friday is a chilling indication of just where the U.S. might be going when it comes to religious liberty. As reported by CNN, Donald Trump – during an interview on the Christian Broadcast Network – flatly stated that the United States will give priority to Christian refugees over Muslim refugees fleeing from the countries currently on Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” immigration list.
In startling comments that would seem to run absolutely counter to the First Amendment prohibition against the United States government infringing or endorsing any religion, Trump said the following about refugees during the interview.
“If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”
In these Donald Trump Christian refugees comments, the current resident of the White House offered no proof whatsoever for his contention that Christians were somehow being prevented from immigrating into the United States as refugees from war-torn places like Syria. Of course, Trump also overlooks – or is unaware of – the fact that Christians make up a vanishingly small percentage of Syria’s overall population.
So naturally, you would expect there would be fewer Christian refugees from Syria than there are Muslim refugees. But as a matter of fact, last year the United States took in almost exactly the same number of Christian refugees – roughly 30,000 – as it did Muslim refugees.
Christian leaders–conservative and liberal–reject Trump's intention to prioritize Christian refugees over others:https://t.co/UtxrLPjJnj
— Emma Green (@emmaogreen) January 28, 2017
Unless Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway are going to offer up some “alternative facts” to refute these numbers, the discrepancy between Trump’s comments and reality seems hard to reconcile. But regardless, Trump does make it quite plain it’s his intention to ensure that Christian refugees are prioritized over Muslim refugees.
In short, the Trump administration has claimed that the current ban on refugees and immigration from his list of Muslim countries is not a “Muslim ban” focusing on that specific religion. But in the CBN interview, this is revealed by Donald Trump himself to be completely untrue.
The Congress and Donald Trump
Christian refugees statements aside, CNN reports many voices have been raised in the Senate – some of them Republican’s at Trump nominee confirmation hearings – indicating that the United States will never discriminate against Muslims in its immigration policies. But it’s not entirely clear just what the Congress can – or would – do to stop Donald Trump.
Despite the fact that both Donald Trump and other Republicans have decried Barack Obama’s use of executive orders over the last few years, Trump himself has already issued dozens of such orders in only the first week of his administration. Clearly, he doesn’t feel he actually needs Congress to carry out many of his plans.
And since Donald Trump controls the executive branch and all of its various agencies and departments, it will be fairly easy for him to implement whatever policies he wishes with regard to immigration into the United States. And it’s not as if Trump supporters – many of whom are almost rabidly suspicious of so-called “Islamic radicals,” “Sharia law” and other Trump campaign bogeymen – will now turn on him for doing exactly what they want him to do.
The Courts and Donald Trump
Christian refugees getting priority status over Muslim refugees – as indicated above – appears to run counter to the underlying principles of the First Amendment and the idea of religious freedom in the United States. On the other hand, many on the far right will no doubt argue that the constitutional protections laid out in the Bill of Rights don’t really apply to foreigners.
Trump's promise to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees when the 90-day ban lifts violates the Religion Clauses of our First Amendment.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 28, 2017
Given that argument, it may be that the court system will do nothing to stop Donald Trump if he institutes an immigration system that prioritizes Christians over Muslim refugees. Certainly, once Trump has a new Supreme Court justice installed to fill the current vacancy left by Justice Scalia, executive branch arguments might just win the day in the High Court. So the Donald Trump Christian refugees preference plan – as outrageous as it seems – just might become a reality.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]