Politics

LA says its staff won't help Trump create Muslim registry

Paul Krekorian attends a Los Angeles City Council meeting in this Aug. 6, 2013 file photo. The council voted 10-0 to approve a motion authored by Krekorian that would prohibit city staff from assisting with the creation of any registry based on individuals' religious beliefs.
Paul Krekorian attends a Los Angeles City Council meeting in this Aug. 6, 2013 file photo. The council voted 10-0 to approve a motion authored by Krekorian that would prohibit city staff from assisting with the creation of any registry based on individuals' religious beliefs.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

The Los Angeles City Council took the first steps Wednesday to prevent city employees from helping to create a Muslim registry.

The council voted 10–0 to approve a motion asking the city attorney to draft an ordinance prohibiting city staff from participating in or assisting with any request for information to create a registry of people based on their religion.

The motion was authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian in response to what he said were President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to prohibit Muslims from entering the country and to register them once here.

“Some of the darkest times in recent American history have come about because of irrational fears that have led to scapegoating and identification of groups of people for unfair treatment,” Krekorian told KPCC, citing the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Cold War.

During the 2016 campaign season, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” a reference to terror attacks at home and abroad claimed by radical jihadists.

Trump has in the past indicated a willingness to consider a registry for Muslims in the U.S. When asked about a potential Muslim registry, Trump said, "There should be a lot of systems, beyond database, we should have a lot of systems, and today you can do it," though he later indicated he hadn't fully heard the question.

It's still unclear whether Trump intends to move ahead with any sort of registry, and some of his own cabinet picks have suggested their own views don’t align with his.

Nikki Haley, Trump’s pick for U.N. ambassador, recently rejected the idea of a Muslim registry during her confirmation hearing. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, also said the administration was “not going to have a registry based on a religion.”

But Krekorian said that he had to take the president at his word and believed that Trump would make every effort to specifically target Muslims.

“What country am I living in that I have to consider writing a motion like this? I don’t recognize an administration that would use the power and force of the federal government of the United States to target sub-communities,” he said.

Krekorian said he wanted to make it clear that the council’s decision was not just symbolic. The council’s intent is to make it a matter of law that the city’s tens of thousands of employees do not participate in “any effort to violate the constitutional rights” of anyone.