Congress Adds its Voice to the Fight Against the Muslim Ban (The Torch)

Congress Adds Its Voice to the Fight Against the Muslim Ban

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Subha Varadarajan
APRIL 10, 2019

More than two years have passed since the Trump administration implemented the first version of its Muslim ban, and communities continue to suffer its consequences. The version of the ban currently in effect prevents nationals of five Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — from entering the United States. It separates families, deprives people of life-saving health care, and blocks their access to education and professional opportunities.

The original Muslim ban was the first of many horrific discriminatory policies that have come out of the Trump administration. Since the day Trump issued the first executive order establishing the ban, January 27, 2017, his administration has adopted and implemented many more xenophobic policies, including two additional iterations of the Muslim ban. Each subsequent iteration has had the same discriminatory intention of banning Muslims from entering the U.S., and each version was immediately challenged in the courts. Unfortunately, on June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court turned a blind eye to the injustices inherent in the ban, and it allowed the ban’s third iteration to go into full effect.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision, the Trump administration has continued its attack on immigrant communities — abuses like detaining family members separately from each other, attempting to change the rules about who is considered a “public charge” for immigration purposes, and issuing yet another ban, this one targeting Central American asylum-seekers attempting to enter the U.S. at the border with Mexico. Notwithstanding all the other horrific policies that have been introduced and implemented under President Trump, the Muslim ban continues to be one of the administration’s worst signature policies.

Although a number of important bills have been introduced in Congress to defund the ban’s implementation or require more oversight, none of them have language that would prevent a future ban. Today for the first time, a set of bills was introduced whose aim is to repeal all iterations of the Muslim ban and prevent any future president from enacting a new, similar ban.

Today, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (No Ban) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Due to the hard work of many coalition partners, this bill includes the pieces essential not only to repeal the Muslim ban but also to create barriers against issuing any new ban. The No Ban Act would amend sections of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) that Trump used as legal authority to create all his various bans. In addition, this legislation is a perfect complement to other legislative efforts, such as HR.810 and S.246, that would prevent American taxpayer dollars from being used to implement the Muslim ban.

Outlined below are the specific reasons why the No Ban Act is a meaningful bill that members of Congress need to get behind:

Repeals all iterations of the Muslim and other bans

This bill would repeal all three iterations of Trump’s Muslim ban, his refugee/extreme-vetting-of-refugees ban, and his asylum ban. The inclusion of each type of ban is vital, since they are all based on the same discriminatory intent.

  • The refugee ban is just another iteration of the Muslim ban. It specifically targets the parts of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program that have accounted for 80 percent of all Muslim refugees resettled in the U.S. in the past two years.
  • The asylum ban was issued based on the same INA authority as the Muslim ban, but targeting asylum-seekers at the southern U.S. border.

Expands the INA’s nondiscrimination provision

This bill would broaden the INA’s nondiscrimination provision by adding religion to the list of protected classes. This addition would also apply to all visa applicants, immigrant and nonimmigrant. The primary motivation for Trump’s ban is religious animus, and this revision seeks to prevent a policy based on similar animus from being implemented in the future.

Limits authority to suspend or restrict the entry of a class of non–U.S. citizens

Most importantly, this bill would amend INA section 212(f), the section that Trump claimed as legal authority to create the Muslim and asylum bans, to require that additional criteria be met before the entry of a person or class of people may be banned. This amendment would limit the ability for a future president to create any type of ban, including but not limited to bans of Muslims, refugees, or asylum-seekers.

Requires more reporting on the implementation of administration policies

This bill would require retroactive reporting on the implementation of each of the Muslim bans. It would also trigger periodic reporting on any future use of INA section 212(f), thus providing Congress with more information to use in conducting its oversight duties.

WE URGE YOU TO REACH OUT to your congressional representative and senators to encourage them to cosponsor the No Ban Act. Two ways to do this are by signing the #RepealTheBan petition and calling your members of Congress. It is imperative that we stand united against white nationalism and #RepealTheBan once and for all.

Subha Varadarajan is NILC’s Muslim and refugee ban legal and outreach fellow.