In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday that President Trump has the authority to ban citizens from Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) released a statement on their Facebook page. The 5-4 ruling was a victory for the Trump administration, affirming the president’s considerable power in controlling entry into the country. The MSA described the decision as “unacceptable, unprecedented, and unequivocally un-American.”
The MSA highlighted their members with connections to the countries affected — Iran, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen.
“We understand that this ruling affects members within our community, many of our families, and many of our fellow peers here at UVA and in the larger Charlottesville community,” the statement reads. “We want any student who is from or has family from [the affected nations] to know that we stand in solidarity with you and pray for the success of those who continuously stand up for our rights and values whether it’s those on the legal front, civilian protesters, Congressional and elected officials, or public figures.”
President Trump’s travel ban, in its current iteration, has been in place since December 2017. The administration revised previous versions of the order after being challenged in court. The Court ruled that although five of the named countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations, the president’s order is not inherently discriminatory. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion.
“The text [of the ban] says nothing about religion,” Roberts wrote. “Plaintiffs and the dissent nonetheless emphasize that five of the seven nations currently included in the proclamation have Muslim-majority populations. Yet that fact alone does not support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.”
The MSA has rejected that notion. The organization’s statement asserts that the travel ban is an example of President Trump inciting “fear, hate mongering, and bigotry.”
“We encourage everyone to take action,” the statement continues. “Given recent events, we want to send our community a reminder that no one is illegal, no one is a terrorist, and no one is alone. The current administration has begun to normalize discrimination, hate, bigotry, and fear and we must continue to uphold and protect our values and rights as a community.”
The MSA’s statement aligns with Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s scathing dissent in the case, which accused the Court of undermining the United States’s commitment to religious liberty and failing to protect the First Amendment.
“[The Court’s decision] leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns,” Sotomayor wrote. “A reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts…and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.”
In its statement, the MSA encourages its supporters to contact their political representatives and make their beliefs known.
“Reach out to your elected representatives and officials, email them, call them, tweet them, do whatever you need to do to get the message across,” it says. “We must stop focusing on what distinguishes and divides us and instead focus on what unites us — a common humanity.”