Jul 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden vows to end Trump travel ban on Muslim-majority nations if elected

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center July 14

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., on July 14. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden vowed on Monday to end President Trump's signature travel ban on people from Muslim-majority nations "on day one" if he's elected.

Of note: Biden made the pledge during an online address at the "Million Muslim Votes" summit. It's rare for a presidential nominee, presumptive or otherwise, to address large Muslim audiences. Organizers of the event, hosted by the Muslim American advocacy group Emgage Action, told NPR they can't recall a nominee ever doing so.

"Joe Biden's presence serves not only to galvanise Muslim Americans to cast their ballots, but to usher in an era of engaging with Muslim American communities under a Biden administration."
— Emgage Action CEO Wa'el Alzayat to Al Jazeera
  • The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's Monday address coincided with a prominent group of Muslim American leaders endorsing him in a letter organized by Emgage Action. Among the signatories were Reps. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who originally endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, AP notes.

What he's saying: "Muslim communities were the first to feel Donald Trump's assault on Black and brown communities in this country with his vile Muslim ban," Biden said in his speech that addressed the "unconscionable rise in Islamophobia," for which he blamed Trump.

  • Biden pledged to work with Congress "to pass hate crimes legislation" as well as repeal Trump's travel ban if elected.
  • And he said he wished schools taught more about the Islamic faith, noting "we all come from the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs."

Background: Democrats have historically been "cautious about openly courting Muslim voters," and Republicans more so in recent years, NPR notes — although then-Republican nominee George W. Bush did so 20 years ago.

  • Biden himself was absent from last year's Islamic Society of North America convention, along with all but two Democratic presidential candidates — Sanders and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.

Go deeper: How Trump's Muslim travel ban has evolved

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