The legislation — spearheaded by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and backed by 219 co-sponsors — includes language aimed at reining in the president’s ability to impose travel restrictions on citizens from other countries and bars religious discrimination in immigrant-related decisions.
Under the NO BAN Act, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security would have to consult with Congress before imposing a restriction, otherwise the directive would be immediately terminated. Individuals “unlawfully harmed” by such restrictions would be able to sue in federal court.
Proponents of the legislation argue it’s a necessary step to overturn policies they view as discriminatory and unconstitutional. Trump first issued the travel ban in 2017, suspending entry to those coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia — all predominantly Muslim countries.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) described the bill, formally titled the “National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act," as "critical legislation that will stop executive overreach, defend Congress' role in establishing our nation's immigration laws, and right one of the original sins of the Trump administration — the Muslim ban."
“When the Trump administration issued its first version of the ban in January 2017, it was immediately apparent it was unconstitutional, discriminatory and morally reprehensible. Its chaotic rollout undermined the cruelty of this policy," he said on the House floor, The Hill reported.
Republicans have slammed the bill, which is unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate, as “reckless,” “irresponsible” and a threat to US national security. Critics of the measure say it would limit the president’s ability to stop immigration during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are spending our time with this bill that would limit it and make it more difficult for the president of the United States — any president, just because some people don't like this president, they are going to make it harder for any president — to keep Americans safe, whether it's from terrorists abroad or whether it's for health pandemics that might break out again in the future. This is lunacy,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said during debate.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday vowed to overturn the travel ban if elected.
“Muslim communities were the first to feel Donald Trump’s assault on Black and brown communities in this country with his vile Muslim ban,” the former vice president said during Emgage Action's virtual Million Muslim Votes Summit.
“That fight was the opening barrage in what has been nearly four years of constant pressure and insults and attacks against Muslim American communities," Biden said.