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Combating Islamophobia, Xenophobia and White Supremacy

The Biden-Harris administration will have to confront and reverse the Islamophobic, xenophobic and white supremacist legacy of the previous administration. Trump began his one-term presidency with a Muslim ban, which was followed by his State Department’s drastically reducing the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., blocking Muslims in particular. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of Muslim refugees resettled in the U.S. decreased by 91%. In January 2020, the State Department issued a concerning rule to deny U.S. visas to pregnant women from largely nonwhite countries. The administration has said that the rule is an attempt to crack down on unproven “birth tourism.” The rule, which is medically unenforceable, has drawn ire from medical professionals who are concerned that the State Department is trying to charge medically untrained immigration officers with the task of adjudicating people’s pregnancies. The National Immigration Forum has said the rule continues to advance the administration’s narrative “that children of immigrant parents are not as good as children of parents from the U.S.” while DHS Watch has called the rule’s “racial disparities … extremely concerning.”

The harmful “birth tourism” rule must be reversed, and safeguards must be implemented to guard against Islamophobic and xenophobic policy decisions with regard to immigration and refugees. State Department personnel must lead by example in their diplomacy and rulemaking to combat white supremacy rather than fan its flames—as was the case with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.