As a human rights organization dedicated to the advancement of our nation’s most profound values of religious freedom, equality, and justice, The Lantos Foundation feels compelled to address a proposal that has been announced by a candidate for President to temporarily ban all Muslims from travelling to the United States. It should be self-evident that any such proposal is not only inimical to our collective values, but also to the Constitution of the United States. Whether it is our 1st Amendment's protection of religious freedom, the 5th Amendment’s guarantee of due process, or the 14th Amendment's promise of equal protection of the laws, the heart of our Constitution is the fair and equal treatment of all people, not only US citizens. A religious litmus test for admission to our country invokes memories of totalitarian regimes, from Nazi Germany to Soviet Russia, and we believe those sorry examples are ones that all decent people should be loath to emulate.
However, our concerns run beyond the many legal objections to an unconstitutional and unworkable immigration proposal. We are disturbed at the impact that such rhetoric has on the fabric of our society domestically and on the perception of our nation abroad. For billions of people around the world, the United States of America has stood for the robust defense of human rights, justice, and religious freedom. It has been the strength and credibility of our values that has been our greatest asset as we strive to build a more decent and humane world for all people. Any plan to target a specific community based on their religious identity is deeply offensive and would start our nation down a slippery slope that leads to a very dark place. No-one understood this better than the late Congressman Tom Lantos. As the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the United States Congress, Tom Lantos experienced, in the most horrific way, what can happen when one group of people is singled out for discrimination and exclusion.
We applaud the many voices from across the political spectrum, both in the United States and abroad, who have quickly denounced this outrageous plan, and we would hope that all those running for our nation’s highest office would take seriously the Constitutional oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
The Lantos Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization and as such we do not take positions on political candidates; however we do speak out on matters that impact our organization’s mission to advance the cause of fundamental human rights.