House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban
The House passed legislation on Wednesday that would limit executive authority to issue future travel bans like the one imposed by former President Trump against several Muslim-majority countries.
Lawmakers passed the bill along party lines, 218-208, with only one Republican joining with Democrats in support.
The legislation, titled the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act, would explicitly prohibit religious discrimination in immigration-related decisions. Any immigration restrictions could only be issued by the executive branch if there is a “compelling government interest.”
The State Department and Department of Homeland Security would have to consult with Congress and provide specific evidence justifying the immigration restriction and its proposed duration before imposing it.
“We must make sure no president is ever able to ban people from coming to the U.S. simply because of their religion,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the bill’s author and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Republicans warned that the legislation would unnecessarily undermine executive authority and called for action to address the current surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border instead.
“It is the president in whom all executive power vests, who should determine whether to suspend entry and not just in consultation, with the permission, with State and Homeland Security,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).
The House also passed legislation later Wednesday by a 217-207 party-line vote to ensure that citizens and other people with legal status who are detained at U.S. ports of entry can consult with an attorney to help understand their rights.
Trump signed an executive order during his first week in office in 2017 which limited visas from several predominantly Muslim countries. The travel ban was revised numerous times to eventually include five countries with majority-Muslim populations — Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia — as well as North Korea and Venezuela before the Supreme Court upheld it in 2018.
The ban came after Trump called in 2015 during his presidential campaign for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
President Biden rescinded the ban on his first day in office in a fulfillment of one of his campaign pledges.
“Make no mistake: Where there are threats to our nation, we will address them. Where there are opportunities to strengthen information-sharing with partners, we will pursue them. And when visa applicants request entry to the United States, we will apply a rigorous, individualized vetting system. But we will not turn our backs on our values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States,” Biden said in a proclamation reversing Trump’s actions.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, first introduced the bill to ensure people detained at ports of entry have access to counsel in response to Trump’s travel ban, which sparked confusion at airports across the U.S. as refugees and people with visas were detained by Customs and Border Protection.
“It brings us one step closer to upholding our country’s principles of due process and fairness,” Jayapal said.
But Republicans expressed concern that the measure would restrict law enforcement’s ability to screen people flagged for additional scrutiny.
“This bill does nothing to enhance our border security and furthermore hampers their ability to carry out their mission,” said Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).
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