Saturday, January 28, 2017

Who is a minority?

The New York Times has helpfully printed the actual text of the Trump Administration executive order on the refugee program and visas. It's demented and there are about 20 different things that could be unconstitutional, illegal and just plain immoral, but among the lowlights is this --

Upon the resumption of USRAP [refugee] admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.

Thus the wheeze to avoid mentioning religion directly is to say that if religious-based discrimination could be occurring, it has to be for a minority religion. The gamble is that therefore that the order would have its practical impact for Muslim-majority countries. As the order is tested, at least two problems will emerge. The first is defining religion, as opposed to sect, whereas for example Shia could claim discrimination in Sunni majority countries and vice versa. The second is Muslim minorities such as Rohingya in Burma/Myanmar and Kashmiris in India. Will they be beneficiaries of the priority under the new framework?

Incidentally, countries that host USA pre-clearance facilities for US Customs and Immigration, such as Canada and Ireland, are now in a somewhat awkward position, as a policy with which they likely disagree is now being directly enforced on their soil.

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