Expansion of Muslim Ban

Sep 22, 2017

Expansion of Muslim Ban


UPDATE September 24, 2017 - Per Politico: 

"President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban will morph into a new set of restrictions on travelers from a larger set of countries, U.S. officials announced Sunday night.

The current policy, which denies visas to citizens of six majority Muslim countries, will be replaced by a new set of travel limits on eight countries, including all but one of those on the previous list. The nations facing travel restrictions under the new policy are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, officials said Sunday. Existing visa-holders are exempt, and waivers will remain available for travelers with U.S. ties."

September 22, 2017 -

Ahead of the expiration of Trump's Muslim ban this coming Sunday, reports emerged today that the Trump administration will be expanding the ban and additional "vetting" to additional countries. Preliminary reports suggest that of the 17 countries originally intended to be included in the travel ban, half have complied with DHS requests to improve security and screening processes, while half have not. The expansion would potentially include 8 or 9 countries and would have various vetting and entry restrictions, dependent on each country. It is unclear when these reports will be made official, though rumors indicate that the new iteration of the ban could come down as soon as this weekend.

Media Frames

Reporting on this story by various media outlets is particularly frenetic, given the uncertainty of reports and of developments. The Washington Post is framing this as just a new iteration of the Muslim ban, stating: "The latest measures would mark the third iteration of Trump’s effort to restrict entry of foreign travelers to the United States." The New York Times, however, is framing this as a replacement of the Muslim ban, saying, "President Trump’s ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced." It will be key for organization to come out with statements on the broader frames illustrated below, in order to shift the media framing of this away from replacement and towards the concept that this is yet another iteration of a discriminatory ban.

Top-Line Frames

Below are some top frames that can be reiterated and reinforced prior to having more details on the ban expansion:

  • Emphasize intent: in a case around school prayer (Wallace v. Jaffree) from 1985, a school district first introduced school prayer, then changed it to a minute of silence, and then to a moment of silence. While the latter iterations were more acceptable, because the district began with school prayer, the intent was clear from the first iteration, and that intent violated constitutional principle. Similarly here, it will be key to emphasize that the Trump administration began with a discriminatory Muslim ban, and that further iterations still share the original intent of hurting minority communities and communities of color. This can be taken back further to Trump's comments as candidate, which were less veiled in their bigotry against minority groups.
  • Remind people that this is a third iteration: no matter how the new ban is expanded, emphasizing that this is yet another iteration of the Muslim ban will also be key. There is also some value in reminding people that the original Muslim ban failed because of its discriminatory nature, that new iterations are simply seeking to assuage concerns about what is clearly a bigoted policy, and that new iterations too will fail. Calling it "Muslim Ban 3.0" might be less useful, as proponents of the ban would be quick to point out that it no longer targets just Muslim-majority countries, but emphasizing that this is just a new iteration of discriminatory policy that failed in it's first and second attempts and will fail in its next attempts would be powerful.
  • Polling on Trump's recklessness: following Trump's comments on North Korea, polling showed that many Americans believe Trump is a reckless leader. Emphasizing this point - pointing to his fitness as a leader, the inherent lack of responsibility, and the recklessness of his actions - will further drive home this divide. That the DHS is withholding information on expansion and potential new countries has the feel of a reality TV show - creating that analogy ("waiting to see which country gets voted off the island") reinforces the narrative of Trump as a reality TV star who is too reckless and unfit to be President.
  • Threats abroad vs. ignorance at home: while President Trump looks for acts of violence coming from abroad, he has yet to tackle security threats from white supremacy groups within the United States. Talking about the contrast between his response to London (which was  the impetus behind this new, expanded ban) and his lack of response to Charlottesville will illustrate the hypocrisy of Trump's desire to "keep our country safe," looking for bogeymen abroad (particularly with countries with no history of terrorist attacks) while ignoring the very real public safety issues that impact us domestically in the form of white nationalist and supremacist groups.

Talking Points

Many thanks to a number of organizations and advocates who worked together to draft messaging when rumors of an expansion were first floated a few weeks ago. You can find those talking points below.

  • The President continues to pursue racist and discriminatory policies. The President has consistently proposed policies that embody the ugly, discriminatory rhetoric of his campaign trail. The President began his administration by excluding Muslims from the United States and is now expanding that to other immigrant communities that he has expressed deep-seated prejudice towards. His bias, bigotry, and discrimination continue to seep into his policies in violation of the Constitution, disrespecting our country’s history, laws, and values.
  • We already have an immigration system and the President cannot abuse his authority to try to change it. The United States has an immigration system that was created by Congress. The President cannot change or usurp those laws simply by creating a narrative of fear and sowing divisions in our country. The laws exist for a reason and went through a deliberate and lengthy legislative process in Congress. The President cannot use fear as an excuse to sidestep those laws and create his own system. Dividing our country on the basis of fear makes us weak. Unity, and a belief in the laws and systems put in place by our elected representatives, is what makes us strong.
  • Contrary to the fear that the President is trying to stoke, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and communities of color contribute to our community safety, strength, and overall well-being. There is no evidence that religious beliefs, national origin, race, or ethnicity are predictors of violence. Entire communities cannot be eliminated from our immigration system based solely on fear. This expansion of the Muslim ban is another attempt by the President Trump to stereotype communities of color and perpetuate the idea that immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and communities of color are dangerous and suspicious. It is yet another attempt by a politician seeking to divide people in order to maintain power, but the majority of Americans reject the premise of division and understand that our power as participants in a democracy lies in our ability to unite on the principle that everyone deserves dignity, fairness, and respect.
  • We stand united across communities in airports, in marches, in our neighborhoods, and in the courts. The American people see through these fear-mongering tactics and stand with all communities, as they stood with Muslims when Trump implemented his Muslim ban. We stand united against discrimination, as did the writers of our Constitution, and continue to fight arm-in-arm to form a more perfect union. 
  • We will not be silent while the President tries to destroy American laws and values. We will not stand by silently while the administration attempts to slash our immigration system and destroy the diversity that is the very embodiment of America. We will not allow our immigration system to be manipulated by the President in order to implement of a white nationalist agenda.
  • We are not going anywhere. The people have spoken out against the President’s discriminatory and bigoted agenda. From the rallies at airports to prevent anti-Muslim policies to the walkouts and protests in the street to defend DACA, the American people have shown their strength and power.  We will continue to fight these policies and hold the administration accountable for as long as it takes. President Trump cannot change our laws with the stroke of his pen, just has he cannot change who we are as a nation.

Experts Available

We're in the process of pitching resources from EightPointFiveMillion.org who match either countries impacted by the ban, or are national security experts who can speak to the absurdity of the ban. Please feel free to disseminate this resource to any reporters looking for voices.


While many organizations will want to wait until more details are forthcoming, it will be important to have a preliminary statement in order to steer the media framing. Below is an example from the ACLU that folks can follow:

ACLU Comment on Trump Administration’s Possible New Travel Ban Restrictions


September 22, 2017

CONTACT: Inga Sarda-Sorensen, 212-284-7347isarda-sorensen@aclu.org


NEW YORK — The Trump administration is reportedly considering new travel ban restrictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union and partner organizations are challenging Trump’s current Muslim ban, with Supreme Court arguments slated for October 10.


ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero had this reaction to the reports of possible new restrictions:

“The devil is in the details and we are watching with great skepticism. This looks to be the Trump administration’s third try to make good on an unconstitutional campaign promise to ban Muslims from the United States. This is an apparent effort to paper over the original sin of the Muslim ban, especially when just last week Trump said he wanted a ‘larger, tougher, more specific’ ban.”

The challenge to Trump’s current Muslim ban was brought by the ACLU, ACLU of Maryland, and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of HIAS, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and the Middle East Studies Association, along with individuals affected by the ban.

This statement is at: https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-comment-trump-administrations-possible-new-travel-ban-restrictions


More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/international-refugee-assistance-project-v-trump