Md. Muslim community reacts to President Biden overturning Muslim travel ban
MARYLAND – Maryland’s Muslim community and allies are reacting after President Joe Biden repealed Former President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. They say while this is a step in the right direction, more work needs to be done before real healing can be achieved. “For the last four years, underrepresented communities in our country have been greatly harmed by the previous administration’s racist, discriminatory policies,” said Director of the Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Zainab Chaudry.
The ACLU of Maryland says overturning the ban marked a victory not only for the Muslim community, but for marginalized communities as a whole. “This is the first victory in a much larger fight, that is a result of the advocacy, drive, and resiliency of Muslim communities. This is a religious freedom and racial justice issue,” said Executive Director of the ACLU of Maryland Dana Vickers Shelley.
Under the ban, travelers from several Middle Eastern and African countries were barred from entering the U.S. Local immigration attorneys say a big point of focus will be watching how the federal government begins to process visa applications from those countries. “It’s making sure these applications are processed in a speedy way, while also acknowledging the fact that we are in a pandemic and respecting social distancing, et cetera,” said immigration attorney Eduardo Gonzalez.
Now that the ban is lifted, the White House has said that they would review the screening process and information sharing on individuals with foreign countries. Members of the Muslim community say they’re now working with legislators to make sure discriminatory policies like the travel ban don’t happen again. “Historically, unfortunately there has been a long pattern of surveillance and information gathering on Muslim communities. So this is something that we’re going to be watching very closely,” said Chaudry.
Chaudry says despite the need for continued action, the end of the ban also means the end of missed opportunities and pain. “Eventually, families will be able to reunite. Refugees will have a recourse for fleeing war and poverty. Those who are ill will be able to travel to seek medical care,” said Chaudry.
Part of President Biden’s order requires the Secretary of State to provide a report on the number of visa applicants being considered for a waiver under Former President Trump’s ban. Plus, plans must be made to expedite those pending visa applications. President Biden also ordered a reconsideration on applicants that were denied and a way to make sure that those who do reapply don’t face prejudice because of a previous visa denial.