Trump’s Muslim Ban is Fundamentally Anti-Black

Black Muslim immigrants are doubly vulnerable right now: they face a military state built to bomb, deport, and detain Muslims—and a police state built to criminalize and kill them. This Black History Month, let’s do better in our defense of immigrants and connect Islamophobia to anti-Blackness. 

Last week’s immigration order banned citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. Three of those countries are African. Two are predominantly Black. Members of the African Union blasted the U.S. for “taking many of our people as slaves” but refusing to accept them now as refugees. These are refugees the United States has itself created.

Our military has violently intervened in all seven of the countries we’ve now banned (these are among the 14 predominantly Muslim countries U.S. forces have invaded, occupied, or bombed since 1980). Over the past several years, the Obama administration has rapidly increased drone strikes, special operations deployments, and surveillance missions specifically in Africa. Black Muslim countries have become increasingly vulnerable to U.S. intervention and occupation, turning “homes into the mouth of a shark” and forcing people to flee their homelands. 

Though violence at our borders is not new, Muslim immigrants have faced heightened violence at airports and immigration checkpoints since Trump’s ban went into effect. On Saturday, a Somali mother and her children were detained for 20 hours without food at Dulles Airport. The Atlanta Black Star reports that immigration officers pressured the woman into signing papers and threatened to deport her without her children if she refused to comply. 

What is important to note here is that Black Muslims from Sudan and Somalia and Afro-Arabs from other countries on Trump’s list are doubly vulnerable upon reaching the United States. Not only are they targeted based on their nationality and faith, they face anti-Black racism from a white supremacist state. A report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration shows that Black immigrants are twice as likely to face deportation due to a criminal conviction compared with immigrants from other regions, and more than three times as likely to be detained while their cases are pending. Black people are subject to heavier policing than other communities, and immigrants are no exception. And Black Muslims face added police threats due to anti-Muslim surveillance programs. 

Trump’s Black History Month remarks yesterday aren’t just laughable—they are an ugly reminder of how vulnerable both Black and Muslim lives are in this era. Black Lives Matter released a statement in response to the Muslim Ban, highlighting how xenophobia and Islamophobia work together to harm those who are most vulnerable and emphasizing that the movement for Black lives knows no borders. Black History Month is a good time to finally uplift the experiences of Black Muslim immigrants and collectively fight for each other against a state that profits from our pain and revels in our repression.

Header image via The Islamic Monthly

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

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