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Faiza Patel: Trump Is Taking U.S. Back to Era of George W. Bush—But Worse

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According to leaked documents, another executive order is in the works that would temporarily ban most refugees from entering the country and reportedly block visas from being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. We speak to Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Faiza Patel, you’re with the Brennan Center. Talk about your response to what’s happened this week. Later in the broadcast, we’re going to talk about immigration—you know, in a single day, more changes to immigration policy than we’ve ever seen in this country’s history; the proposed reopening of black sites that is expected to be yet another executive action of the president. Your assessment of all of this?

FAIZA PATEL: Well, I mean, I think Vince is exactly right, that what we’re seeing is a rollback of a lot of the changes that Obama made, which he made primarily by executive order and not through legislation. And so, it’s taking us not only back to the early days of the Bush administration, but I think it’s actually worse than that, because you have not just these suggestions that we’re going to revert to torture, we’re going to revert to black sites, but this overall demonization of Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world, which is very counterproductive to what is the stated national security aim of trying to bring people together to fight against ISIS. So I think this is a overall set of measures that are really going to set us back in terms of national security, and are, of course, hugely detrimental to our constitutional values and the rights of Americans here at home, which will be affected, as they are demonized as being terrorists.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Faiza Patel, you wrote a piece, an op-ed piece, in The New York Times. Can you lay out your concerns?

FAIZA PATEL: So the piece I wrote about was, was I was looking at the three or four proposals that then-candidate Trump had put up which related to Muslim Americans. And the one that bothered me, which I thought had not gotten enough attention, was his proposal to create a commission on radical Islam. And the reason I was worried about that is that’s pretty easy for a president to do. You know, they create commissions all the time. But what it does is it serves as a vehicle for finding ways to demonize Muslim Americans and to stigmatize them and to go ahead and bring out into the mainstream some of the crazy conspiracy theories that we’ve seen come out from people who are now in government, frankly, such as when they went after then-Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin alleging that she had sort of six-degrees-of-separation connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. I think that’s really, really damaging. And it’s damaging to American Muslims right here, because they see that their government does not consider them to be equal, normal citizens like everybody else, but basically as a kind of fifth column inside the country.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break, and then we’re going to come back. Faiza Patel is co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center. Vince Warren is executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. We’ll be back with them in a minute.

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