US ‘Muslim ban’ set to end ‘on day one’ of Biden presidency

President-elect has pledged to immediately halt travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on more than a dozen nations.

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington
Protesters gather outside the US Supreme Court against President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from Muslim-majority countries in Washington, DC in 2018 [Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

On the first day of his presidency, president-elect Joe Biden intends to rescind Donald Trump’s travel bans on travellers from 13 countries, most either majority-Muslim or African nations.

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump issued an executive order that banned travellers from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.

The Trump administration reworked the order several times amid legal challenges and the Supreme Court upheld a version of it in 2018. The countries subject to entry restrictions have changed over the years.

The bans could be easily undone as they were issued by executive order and presidential proclamation, according to policy experts, but lawsuits from conservatives could delay the process.

In October, Biden also promised to push politicians for laws to fight the surging number of hate crimes in the US.

“As president, I’ll work with you to rip the poison of hate from our society to honour your contributions and seek your ideas. My administration will look like America with Muslim Americans serving at every level,” he said.

“On day one, I’ll end Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban.”

Trump imposed the travel restrictions – often referred to by critics as the “Muslim ban” – through a series of executive orders singling out Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, triggering criticism that it amounted to unlawful religious discrimination.

Trump then expanded the ban to include Venezuela and North Korea and later added Nigeria, Sudan, Myanmar and three other countries to the list.

“Muslim communities are the first to feel Donald Trump’s assault on Black and brown communities in this country, with his vile Muslim ban. That fight was the opening barrage in what has been nearly four years of constant pressure and insults,” Biden said.

‘First day in office’

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, congratulated Biden on his victory on Saturday and said it would hold him to his election promises.

“President-elect Biden has pledged to end the Muslim Ban on his first day in office, include Muslims at every level of his administration and address issues of racial and religious discrimination,” said Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director.

“We plan to join other American Muslim leaders and organisations in ensuring that the Biden administration fulfils these promises. We also plan to continue holding our government accountable when it errs.”

During the election campaign, Trump accused Biden of wanting to “end all travel bans, including from jihadist regions”, and implied his challenger would allow “people that are going to come in and blow up our cities, do things”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies