India is also making discrimination against Muslims a key ingredient of its refugee and immigration policy.
Scenes from New York’s JFK Airport are being broadcast all over the world, as citizens of the United States of America rally together to protect immigrants’ rights. President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the country’s refugee entry programme for 120 days, and banning the entry of citizens from seven primarily Muslim countries – Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Sudan – for 90 days was passed with the apparent objective of protecting US national security. However, it is clear to most that the new policy is driven by Islamophobia and xenophobia. Donald Trump has come to the presidency by appealing to the only demographic in his country he cares about, the white majority. No one who followed Trump’s campaign should be surprised at the nature of these executive orders. The Trump administration, with its repeated invocation of America’s past greatness, is clearly harkening to a pre-multicultural, predominantly white nation.
One lesser known aspect of the executive order is the prioritising of refugee claims on the basis of religious persecution – as long as the applicant belongs to a religious community which is a minority in their country of origin. In this way, Muslim individuals facing persecution in countries where Muslims form a majority are ineligible for refugee status in the US.
While many in India have recoiled at the manner in which the Trump administration has made religious discrimination a key ingredient of its refugee and immigration policy, we should also turn to look at similar legislative provisions being proposed in our own country.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 is a short, three-page document that seeks to amend Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act. The Citizenship Act deals with the acquisition and termination of Indian citizenship. Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act defines the term “illegal immigrant”. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to amend the definition of this term by adding this proviso: