Muslims have been coming to the US for centuries, but you wouldn’t know it by the intense debates that continue to surround the movement of Muslims across international borders.
Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have called for the US to effectively ban Syrian refugees from entering the country. The South Carolina Senate passed a bill that would require all refugees to register with the state, subjecting themselves to surveillance. On social media, the hashtag #StopIslam trended internationally in the hours after the Mar. 22 terrorist attack in Brussels.
Together, these reactions contribute to the idea that Muslim migration to the US is somehow distinct from America’s history as a “nation of immigrants.” Columnist Mark Nuckols summarized the sentiment when he wrote in Townhall about “problematic immigrants” to the US.
The “most problematic,” he writes, are Muslims from the Middle East and Africa. “This most recent wave of immigrants are often more resistant to easy assimilation and more reluctant to accept this country as truly their own,” he says.
In truth, Muslims have been part of this country since before the thirteen original colonies even declared their independence and became a nation. The examples below offer a glimpse of the long history of their migration and contributions to the US.
Muslims were among the first to explore the “New World”
Individuals like Christopher Columbus are often recognized as among the first to “discover” the Americas (despite, of course, the long presence of the indigenous).