Democratic lawmakers are pushing new legislation that would rescind President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and prevent future immigration bans based on religion.
On Wednesday, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced companion bills in the Senate and House that aim to override Trump’s executive order barring travel to the U.S. by people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act ― or No Ban Act ― seeks to change the Immigration and Nationality Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on religion in the granting of visas, immigration benefits and related matters, per a summary of the bill. It would require any president to consult with the secretaries of state and homeland security before restricting entry to the country. And it would mandate that any such restrictions be based on “credible facts” laying out “specific acts” that could undermine national security, human rights, democracy or international stability.
“Trump’s Muslim ban is unAmerican,” Chu tweeted. “[Coons] and I are introducing our No Ban Act today to not only repeal Trump’s hateful ban but also prevent any future president from issuing a ban based on religion or nationality.”
Coons called the ban “a stain on America’s reputation” that is “hurting real people.”
Multiple versions of the travel ban, which Trump first issued by executive order in January 2017, have been challenged in the courts. It was criticized as unconstitutional and discriminatory toward Muslims, since most of the countries in question were Muslim-majority. From the start, it was also met with public protests.
The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the current ban last year. The final iteration restricted immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, Iran and Syria, and barred certain citizens from North Korea and Venezuela from entering the U.S.
While the new legislation has the support of dozens of Democrats in both houses of Congress, the Senate’s Republican majority may keep it from passing.
Last year, more than 37,000 visa applications were denied due to Trump’s ban, according to State Department data.
In one case, a Yemeni mother was kept out of the U.S. for months while her terminally ill 2-year-old son was on life support in a hospital in California. After advocates raised awareness of her case in the media, she was granted a waiver and able to hold her toddler before he died.
A Department of Defense employee has been struggling to bring his wife to the U.S. for the past two years. She is a Syrian native, now stuck in Turkey, whose entry is blocked by Trump’s ban.
“When we don’t stand up against racist and unAmerican policies like the #MuslimBan, then we are saying a whole community doesn’t belong,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), one of the first Muslim congresswomen, tweeted on Wednesday. “This type of ‘othering’ is wrong and hurts our communities. Haven’t we learned this already?”