A Trump PAC spokesman responded to criticism of the president-elect’s proposed Muslim registry by citing precedent – the much-maligned Second World War Japanese internment camps.
Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and a representative for the Great America PAC, said he was in favor of the registry which has been criticized for its similarity to the controversial vetting system put in place after 9/11.
When confronted by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that any Muslim registry could be a ‘slippery slope’ and subject to abuse in the future, Higbie replied that the United States had a history of screening by race and religion.
Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and a representative for the Great America PAC, told Megyn Kelly that he was in favor of the registry which has been criticized for its similarity to the controversial vetting system put in place after 9/11
he also praised President Franklin D Roosevelt who ordered the internment of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast, following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan.
‘We’ve done it based on race, we’ve done it based on religion, we’ve done it based on region,’ Higbie responded, arguing that people from outside America were not protected by the Constitution.
‘We’ve done it with Iran back — back a while ago. We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, call it what you will.’
Higbie was referencing a period during the Second World War when tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans were interred, in what is widely seen as a dark stain on US history.
Kelly pounced on the comment, demanding to know whether Higbie was proposing internment camps for Muslims in America.
‘You know better than to suggest that. That’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl,’ she said.
Higbie attempted to walk back his comments, saying he was not proposing internment camps, which he didn’t necessarily agree with, but it was a ‘precedent’ for Trump’s scheme.
‘There is a small percentage of people that have chosen to align with an extreme ideology within the faith, and they’re doing harm so we would like to keep tabs on it until we can figure out what’s going on,’ he added.
But an appalled Kelly, fired back: ‘You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as a precedent for anything the president-elect is going to do!’
Trump’s policy advisers have announced that they have discussed a proposal to reinstate the much maligned 9/11-era national registry for people from terror-prone Muslim countries.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write tough immigration laws in Arizona and elsewhere, and who media reports say is a key member of Trump’s transition team, said he had participated in regular conference calls with about a dozen Trump immigration advisers for the past two to three months.
Trump, who scored an upset victory last week over Democrat Hillary Clinton, made building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border a central issue of his campaign and has pledged to step up immigration enforcement against the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
He has also said he supports ‘extreme vetting’ of Muslims entering the United States as a national security measure.
Kobach told Reuters last Friday that the immigration group had discussed drafting executive orders for the president-elect’s review ‘so that Trump and the Department of Homeland Security hit the ground running.’
To implement Trump’s call for ‘extreme vetting’ of some Muslim immigrants, Kobach said the immigration policy group could recommend the reinstatement of a national registry of immigrants and visitors who enter the United States on visas from countries where extremist organizations are active.
Kobach helped design the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, while serving in Republican President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants.
Under NSEERS, people from countries deemed ‘higher risk’ were required to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting on entering the United States. Some non-citizen male U.S. residents over the age of 16 from countries with active militant threats were required to register in person at government offices and periodically check in.
NSEERS was abandoned in 2011 after it was deemed redundant by the Department of Homeland Security and criticized by civil rights groups for unfairly targeting immigrants from Muslim- majority nations.
Kobach was also the architect of a 2013 Kansas law requiring voters to provide proof-of-citizenship documents, such as birth certificates or U.S. passports, when registering for the first time.
A U.S. appeals court blocked that law after challenges from civil rights groups.
Kobach said in the interview he believed that illegal immigrants in some cases should be deported before a conviction if they have been charged with a violent crime.
Trump said in an interview on CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ that aired on Sunday that once he took office, he would remove immigrants with criminal records who are in the country illegally.
Last year, when asked whether he would implement a register and ID cards for Muslims, Trump said: ‘I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,’
He added that registration would be mandatory but refused to explain whether Muslims would be punished for refusing to do so.
The president-elect appeared to retreat from his proposals during his campaign after fierce backlash, with made between his plan and the way Jews were treated in Nazi Germany, and the Second World War interment camps.
Last December, he also praised President Franklin D Roosevelt who ordered the internment of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast, following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan.
Sixty-two per cent of the internees were US citizens and the move was later widely considered to be based on racism rather than any security risk posed by Japanese Americans.
Trump argued that his proposed Muslim registry follows the same thought trajectory.
Actress Patricia Arquette has previously criticized Trump’s vow to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants claiming that he would plunge the United States back into its days of internment camps.
Arquette. 48, said that the nation ‘cannot return to anything like’ the Japanese internment camps which were ‘such a blight on the honor of America. We don’t need that kind of ‘Make America Great Again’.
‘America is great. And that is not a great part of American history.’