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The words of the First Amendment of United States Constitution protect individuals against discrimination. Free speech and free exercise of religion are included in this important First Amendment and are arguably one of the most important things that America was built on. Unfortunately in today’s society, religious as well as racial discrimination is all around us. Most notably we have seen this in recent months as President Donald Trump has placed multiple travel bans on people entering the country from specific international countries. Many feel that this one done as a way to suppress the freedom of people of a specific race and religion.
Gender discrimination is a civil rights violation that can be seen in the forms such as sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Racial discrimination is defined as the unequal treatment of an individual base on their race, or the race that they are perceived to be. There are many laws in place to protect against various types of discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was created to ensure that people would be treated fairly. However, there were many racially fueled events in American history that has created a space for racism to thrive. Slavery created a large boost in the American economy and therefore has played an equal role in American culture to date.
People from all around the world aspire to live in The United States. Because of its high standard of living, there are people from all over aspiring to obtain freedom and equality. In many other counties, such as Syria or Iran, religion plays a large role in peoples day to day. Religion heavily dictated the society as women are not treated equally as men and freedom is not equal regardless of gender, religion or sex.
As stated by President Trump, “the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11th, 2001 implicated many foreign born individuals. It also uncovered several other terrorism- related crimes. These terrorists were foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism. (Young, 2017)
While it is important to protect America and what it stands for, it is also important to ensure that the rights of the people are being upheld. The United States is wants to protect Americans by making sure that anyone entering the country doesn’t have a negative attitude toward the country and its people or principles. If it is known whether those attempting to enter the United States have thoughts or attitudes of violence, discrimination against race, sex gender or religion towards the country or its people, then it is thought that they should not be admitted.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Iran from entering the United States. Immigration from these countries was temporarily suspended as well. This posed a big problem for the American people as they believed that such a ban was a blatant act of discrimination and was in violation of the First Amendment.
The President claimed that this order was a plan to prevent Islamic terrorists from entering The United States. Refugees from these Muslim nations were given religious tests, while Christians and other non-Muslim religions were granted priority access. The order would suspend entry into the United States for 120 days until it was determined that those detained did not pose a threat to the United States.
Almost immediately, protests erupted all around the country, aggressively objecting to the order. Human rights activists rallied to condemn President Trumps order, insisting that it was discrimination in clear form, but disguised to look like he was attempting to make the United States safer. Most of those affected were women, children as well as men attempting to flee from violence of their country to the safety of the United States. One day after the executive order was signed, a judge in New York City temporarily blocked part of the order siting that it was in violation of the Constitution. A day after that another judge blocked an additional part of the order attempting to restore the rights of the people.
On February 5th, 2017 the ban was not renewed by the government. According to the law, the order is illegal. Over 50 years ago, there were laws created to prevent discrimination against immigrants based on national origin. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was created specifically for this reason. This was done in the late 19th century. Laws existed excluding all Asian and Japanese people in what was called the Asiatic Barred Zone, as well as Eastern Europeans and Africans from immigration quotas which would benefit Western Europeans.
It seemed as though President Trump was attempting to recreate a new version of the Asiatic barred Zone, using an executive order. He also claimed that he was perfectly in his rights to discriminate, observing a 1952 law that indicates the right of the President to temporarily deny entry to individuals he finds do not have the best interest of the United States at heart.
However, this law was restricted by Congress in 1965 blatantly stating that no person could be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.” The only exceptions are those provided for by Congress. (Bier, 2017)
In 1965 when this law was passed by Congress, the goal was not only to protect immigrants, but to protect American citizens as well. America is considered the land of the free is a country full of immigrant’s families from all over the world. Placing any form of a ban on immigrants entering the country prevents American citizens from sponsoring other foreign family members or even marrying a spouse that was not born in America.
President Trump is essentially discriminating under the semantics of issuance of visa vs entry by the individual. However, it is not possible for an immigrant to be granted a visa if they are prevented from entering the country at all. Thus, all orders under the 1952 law apply equally to entry and visa issuance, as his executive order acknowledges. (Bier, 2017)
Important to note, is that the discrimination ban applies only to immigrants. Immigrants are people who have been given residency in the United States legally. Other visitors such as students, tourists or workers are temporary and could still be prevented from entering. President Trump was specifically banning Muslims from entering the country and unfortunately the law of 1965 does not ban discrimination based on religion. Legally speaking, immigrants are those who are given permanent United States residency.
When one refers to ethics, typically that is referred to as a morally correct principle or standard. Right or wrong is weighed by what is considered to be ethical or not. Every culture has its own set of ethical standards and expectations of the way situations should be handled. Ethics also sets a standard for people to be treated equally regardless of sex, gender or race. Unethical, would be considered the opposite. In an unethical situation a person doesn’t adhere to universal ethical behaviors. This may include discrimination, exploitation or illegal activity. Most societies have clearly defined lines drawn in regard to what is ethical or unethical. These guidelines are set to maintain a certain standard of living and fair treatment of people.
There are several instances when a situation can be questioned whether it is ethical or ethical, especially in unemployment. Usually there will fall under the three basic elements of discrimination in employment. Race and color discrimination, religious discrimination or sexual discrimination. It is also critical that a decision isn’t made based on individual merit or would have a harmful impact on the other employees.
Religious discrimination is defined as treating a person or group differently because of their religious beliefs. This can occur in several different settings such as employment, society itself, or housing. This stems from the days of religious persecution, where you could lose your life based on what it is that you believe in. This is one of the most extreme forms of religious discrimination, but nonetheless, is a reality. Lesser forms of punishment would be considered a mild form or religious discrimination or persecution.
In many countries and societies, religious freedom is a right of the people based on the law, but many still experience discrimination.
In a 1979 consultation on the issue, the United States Commission on Civil Rights defined religious discrimination in relation to the civil rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Whereas religious civil liberties, such as the right to hold or not to hold a religious belief, are essential for Freedom of Religion (in the United States secured by the First Amendment), religious discrimination occurs when someone is denied “the equal protection of the laws, equality of status under the law, equal treatment in the administration of justice, and equality of opportunity and access to employment, education, housing, public services and facilities, and public accommodation because of their exercise of their right to religious freedom”. (Boundless, 2016)
However, cases of religious discrimination might also be the result of an interference of the religious sphere with other spheres of the public that are regulated by law. Although e.g. in the United States the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, in Reynolds v. United States the U.S. supreme court decided that religious duty was not a suitable defense to a criminal indictment. In this specific case a law against bigamy was not considered to be discriminating against Mormons, who stopped practicing Polygamy in 189
As an update to the travel ban, on Thursday March 16th, United States District Judge Theodore Chuang from Maryland blocked the ban for citizens of the six Muslim countries Trump has previously banned. Chuang and Watson both cited Trump’s statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign as part of their rulings. This is significant because it shows that the laws written in the Constitution are being used correctly. It’s a testament to the values that America is built on. Although President Trump made an unethical decision, it was later corrected by the las we already have in place to protect against these specific scenarios.
Unfortunately, in addition to the travel ban, on July 26, 2017 President Trump has also placed a ban on transgendered individuals serving in the military. Under the Obama administration, a policy was in place, approved by the Defense Department to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military. Trumps new ban was indirect conflict with that order that had not yet been approved. It’s estimated that roughly over 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and over 15,000 of that 134,000 transgender people are currently serving in the military. Support for transgender veterans has improved somewhat as the awareness spreads, but they still are faced with many daily barriers.
Transgender people are defined as individuals who identify with a different gender than the gender they were born as. Many transgender people resolve this by undergoing surgical procedures to assist in transitioning to the gender that they prefer. This involves several surgical procedures, altering the features that they were born with so that they can be correctly identified as the opposite sex. As a norm, most societies are only familiar with the genders of men and women. Because of the lack of knowledge transgender people are often discriminated against, as people are unaware of what exactly it means to be transgender. In recent years, there has been a raised awareness of transgender people, but that still does not prevent high levels or discrimination.
Trump’s decision creates a major setback for the LGBT community as well as rights groups who have been fighting for equality for years. There has been progress made in leaps and bounds including the right to marry over the past few years. Instituting a ban prohibiting transgender individuals from serving in the military, puts the transgender community back to square one. While they can fight this specific ban, it doesn’t help to make the country as a whole feel that transgender people are equal.
This is a direct form of gender discrimination, as President Trump is letting the world know transgender individuals are not equal based on their gender. This is also a major setback because several months ago, President Trump also reversed another Obama administration policy which allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. Once again, immediately the new order was criticized by the LGBT community and activists, resulting in protests throughout the country.
In conclusion, while President Trump may be able to find loopholes to justify many of his decisions, but the facts remain. For many years the United States has worked to put in place several laws that maintain the equality of all people. While discrimination will exist regardless, it is critical to do continuous work to prevent it. The Civil Rights Act of 1972 is just one example of a law in place to prevent discrimination. It is important to uphold these laws to set a certain standard for society.
On March 29, 2017, a federal judge in Hawaii granted the state’s request for a longer term halt of the revised travel ban executive order. US District Court Judge Derrick Watson blocked the core provisions of the revised executive order two weeks ago, concluding that the order likely violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by disfavoring Muslims. (Almasy, 2017)
It seems that almost on a weekly basis President Trump institutes a new order that straddles the fence of ethics and discrimination. Between the travel ban, the transgender people being banned from the military amongst many other orders made, President Trump has initiated a wave of discriminatory acts that must be fought. Just today, August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA a white nationalist rally was being held. Confederate flags and Nazi swastikas were being waves wile non-nationalists tried to protest against them. This led to a state of emergency for the state of Virginia and an unnecessary day of deadly violence.
Once discrimination is allowed with no consequences, especially from a higher force such as the President of the United States, society as a whole will begin to feel that not out is discrimination okay, but it is okay to be expressed outwardly and in a violent way. While President Trump is attempting to prevent innocent individuals (whom he assumes can be alleged terrorists based on their origin) he has taken the lid of discrimination right here in the United States.
Fortunately, we have laws in place to attempt to prevent this, but it must be a group effort, from all of society to combat these thoughts and behaviors.
- Bier, D. J. (2017, January 27). Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/trumps-immigration-ban-is-illegal.html
- Young, C. A. (2017, January 28). Baker opposes ‘applying religious tests’. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from http://www.manchesterjournal.com/stories/baker-opposes-applying-religious-tests,496587
- Boundless. “Discrimination Against Individuals.” Boundless Sociology Boundless, 8 Aug. 2016. Retrieved 12 Aug. 2017 from https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/race-and-ethnicity-10/prejudice-and-discrimination-82/discrimination-against-individuals-477-10208/
- Almasy, S., & Simon, D. (2017, March 30). A timeline of President Trump’s travel bans. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/10/us/trump-travel-ban-timeline/index.html
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