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Trump, Security, and Muslim Civil Liberties

On Wedneday, January 18th, we attended a panel discussion in the Moot Courtroom at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law titled "Trump, Security, and Muslim Civil Liberties" that was put on by the Northeast Ohio and the CWRU School of Law Student Chapters of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. The panelists were the Hon. James G. Carr, Senior U.S. District Judge in the U.S. District Court in Toledo; Mr. David Leopold, founder and principal of David Wolfe Leopold and Associates Co., LPA; Professor Robert N. Strassfeld, CWRU School of Law; and Mr. Fareed Siddiq, Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley who has been active with many organizations in Cleveland over the years like the Red Cross, Diversity Center and Cleveland Council on World Affairs. This discussion was moderated by Professor Jessie Hill and much credit goes to Mr. Andrew Kohn for organizing it. We were glad to see that the Moot Courtroom was packed with people and we recognized quite a few people who we knew were not part of the legal community but concerned citizens.

To be sure, all of the panelists were very apprehensive about the incoming Trump administration due to the very un-civil libertarian nature of many of the President-elect's appointees and the inflammatory remarks that he, himself, made during his campaign regarding immigrants and Muslims.

Such matters as the operations of the Foreign International Surveillance Court and the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System were reviewed along with the shakey prospects for the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We were glad when Korematsu vs. United States (1944) pertaining to the Japanese internment camps was analyzed at length because we attended a City Club program last November that dealt with that very item.

Overall, the basic belief seemed to be that, even though the Korematsu decision was never actually overturned, it was so discredited and we, as a nation, have come so far since then that would be quite a stretch in 2017 (or years following) to blanketly round-up people and place them in camps for security reasons (as was done during WWII)  but we, as U.S. citizens, certainly have reason to be very wary of accepted racial/ethnic profiling, increased surveillance, registration of those foreign-born and their U.S. born children, questionable deportations, and bans of people entering the United States from countries that are primarily Muslim.

When it was time for Mr. Siddiq to speak he said that he was doing so from a humanistic perspective and said that he was very disturbed about what was happening in the U.S. at this time regarding our attitude towards Muslim Americans; no longer do they feel welcome here. He went on to talk about the fears of young Muslim children, who he knows personally, about their families being deported and the psychological effect that this is having on them. He went on to say that there was bigotry in this country before 9/11 but it has grown increasingly okay to be so since that time. Accordingly, Mr. Siddiq was understandable fearful of statements and proposals made by designated National Security Advisor Lt. General Michael Flynn and prospective U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. What's more he, himself, has had to deal with people who at least initially didn't want to work with him because they were afraid he would launder their money to terrorist groups because he is foreign-born from the Middle East.

In the course of the discussion, it was sadly recounted that even though foreign-born people have unquestionably have made the United States a better place to live, an anti-immigrant bias is part of our "historical DNA" and examples were offered of such things as the "yellow peril." It was then said that what we are seeing today is more legitimacy being given to virulent xenophobia so this is a very troubling time in our history, perhaps more so than any other. Subsequently, we must remember that people are coming to this country to seek a better life, not to destroy the life that is here, which has been the primary motivation for immigration since our country was founded. Therefore, we have a collective responsibility to our ancestors to resist this bigotry that is threatening to "become fashionable or worst of all, acceptable."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


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