Trump Muslim Registry Policy’s Striking Resemblance to Nazi Germany

Hannah Elbaum ’19
Assistant Copy Editor

Recently, Donald Trump, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, announced that he would “absolutely” require Muslim Americans to register with the government. When an NBC reporter asked, “Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims in this country?” Trump replied, “There should be … I would certainly implement that.”

Trump explained that this process would allow the government to track undocumented immigrants, which aligns with his view that America should not be allowing immigrants, specifically Syrian refugees, to enter the country. This database system would “stop people from coming into our country illegally,” Trump said. When asked about how he would approach the process of getting Muslim Americans registered, Trump said, “It would be good management … It’s all about good management. Our country has no management.”

While Trump has frequently engaged with reporters and attendees of his rallies on his thoughts regarding immigration policy, he has previously specified that he wishes to strengthen border control between the United States and Mexico in order to deter undocumented immigrants from entering the country. In his announcement for candidacy, Trump said that Mexico is sending “people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Mexican immigrants are mostly Catholic and comprise the largest percentage of current immigrants to America. Furthermore, Trump’s plan to make only Muslim Americans register in order to distinguish between illegal and legal immigrants – despite the millions of Muslim Americans who are American citizens, many of them natural-born – is grossly xenophobic and Islamophobic.

When asked to explain how his idea to register Muslim Americans differed from Nazi Germany decrees, Trump dodged the question and said, “You tell me,” four times, talking over the reporters before walking away. Despite this attempted evasion, many journalists have drawn the comparison.

In the events leading up to World War II, Adolf Hitler made similar decrees regarding the Jewish German population. They were required to register their ethnicity with the government, wear yellow six-pointed stars and abide by laws that did not apply to the rest of the population – all done in the name of making Germany “great” again. It all sounds eerily similar to Trump’s own campaign messages about America.

The refugee debate itself is uncomfortably similar to the events of 1938. Over the past several weeks, many polls from 1938 have circulated around the Internet and social media, showing that the majority of college students surveyed were against allowing Jewish child refugees to immigrate to the United States. While these poll results might or might not signal anti-Semitism, the sentiment was clear that these people were not welcome in America.

One of the children who was denied a visa to the United States was Anne Frank, a now-famous victim of Nazi Germany who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She left behind a diary of her time spent hiding in a secret apartment in Amsterdam, which is now a museum. My grandfather also spent part of his adolescence in Bergen-Belsen. He survived and is still alive today, but there are six million Jews and eleven million people total who lost their lives because they were unwelcome in Germany.

I cannot say for certain that history’s trajectory would have been different if America had welcomed Jewish refugees before World War II. However, we can see now that history is in the process of repeating itself. Ibrahim Hooper, who works with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was “at a loss for words” when he heard Trump’s comments and that they cannot be compared to anything “except to prewar Nazi Germany.” Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, Republican and Democratic presidential candidates respectively, have both publicly denounced Trump’s comments as well.

What Trump is proposing is despicable and wrong. America is a melting pot of immigrants, and no group deserves to be singled out in any way. It is our responsibility to recognize Trump’s proposal as a reincarnation of the events that preceded World War II and to stop him and others with similar beliefs from moving forward. We have the power to stop history from repeating itself and to prevent xenophobia and Islamophobia from causing another atrocious genocide.

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