Local Muslim community reacts to Muslim registry proposal

'It's disheartening'
Posted at 11:37 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 05:15:27-05

On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump reacted to the Berlin terror attack in front of Mar-a-Lago.

“I’ve been proven to be right," Trump said. "One-hundred-percent correct."

When asked about his proposed Muslim registry and travel ban from Muslim countries he simply responded by saying: "You know my plans."

A year ago, early in his run for the presidency, Trump said he wanted a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country."

Thursday, Trump's newly appointed counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway said on CNN that his plans have softened since then.

"It's not a complete ban," Conway said. "It's about extreme vetting."

For the Muslim community in Palm Beach, the proposal comes with a lot of concern and some fear.

"I think the Muslim community as a whole doesn't feel that a policy like this is productive," said Omar Saleh with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“My honest advice is that our future president should not blindly segregate groups of people like Muslim at large or Hispanic," said Bassem Alhalabi, an associate professor with the Florida Atlantic University."Instead create a list of volunteers who care to help the country solve some of its pressing problems via local and small communities. In other words work with the open majority which is good  to isolate the very few bad who are unknown most likely they would work around this non-sense registry.”

Legally President-elect Trump's proposals might face some obstacles.

"The government is going to have to show a compelling interest for the law that they pass," said Lourdes Casanova with Casanova Law, specializing in immigration.

If the government can't prove such a compelling interest, Casanova said it could easily be challenged in the courts.

While Muslim citizens or permanent residents are protected under the constitution, the Trump administration could take much more direct action against any potential visitors or immigrants.

"Immigration can pretty much stop anyone at the border," Casanova said. "They do not have to let anyone in and that's their discretion."

Conway suggested Thursday that the Trump administration would want to ban travel and immigration from certain countries rather than a travel ban based on a religion.

For those in the Muslim community that target is still too broad.

"I was born and raised here," Saleh said. "To think that I have to watch out for my family members who want to enter this country is disheartening."

On Thursday, President Obama made it harder for such a registry to be put in place. He dismantled a dormant program that was used to track people from Muslim-majority countries.
A spokesperson said it had proven to be unssuccesful in the fight against terrorism and hadn't been used since 2011.