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Rep. Chu, Sen. Coons Lead Bicameral Push to Repeal Muslim Ban, Prevent Future Discriminatory Bans

April 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) today introduced companion bills in the Senate and House to repeal the President’s existing executive order blocking travel from majority Muslim countries and prevent another baseless, discriminatory travel ban from happening again.

The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act repeals the three versions of President Trump’s Muslim ban, strengthens the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, and restores the separation of powers by limiting overly broad executive authority to issue future travel bans. The legislation is supported by 90 members of Congress, nearly 400 diverse civil rights, faith, national security and community organizations, as well as private companies and more than 50 immigration law professors.

The text of the bill is online here.

“President Trump’s Muslim Ban is a hateful policy, born from bigotry, that denies both our country and millions of aspiring Americans a better future,” said Congresswoman Chu. “That is why I’m proud to be joining with Sen. Coons on the No Ban Act, which not only repeals all three of Trump’s attempts to ban Muslims from entering the country, but also creates checks on his ability to enact a future ban based on religion, race, or ethnicity. This ban makes America less safe, endangers the lives of refugees who seek safety here, and tarnishes our reputation in the world. It has nothing to do with national security, and everything to do with instilling fear of the Muslim community. And that’s why we are acting to end it.”

“Right now, there are thousands of American citizens who are forced to live apart from their spouses, whose children will never know their grandparents, and who are denied the opportunity to celebrate milestones with loved ones because of the President’s discriminatory Muslim ban that does not make us safer,” said Senator Coons. “This ban is family separation by another name. It is a stain on America’s reputation around the world that runs counter to our values and is hurting real people. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Chu in introducing this important bill to make clear that, in the United States, we will not tolerate discrimination based on religion or nationality. I invite everyone who treasures our American values to join us in defending them.”

Senator Coons and Congresswoman Chu announced the bicameral legislation on Wednesday at an event featuring Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), Rep. lhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), as well as Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates; Khizr Khan, Gold Star Parent and constitutional rights and national unity advocate; Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism; and Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders, whose family and community have been impacted by the ban.

“The Muslim Ban continues to inflict needless, irreversible harm on separated families—a cruel and reckless policy that was wrongly upheld by the Supreme Court and must now be overturned for good,” said Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates. “The NO BAN Act would immediately stop this discrimination, reunite families, and ensure that no religious community can ever be banned again.”

“The NO BAN Act is a much-needed constitutional safeguard that will protect the spirit of our democracy’s revered system of checks and balances and ensure the executive branch is in compliance with our constitutional norms and the rights and liberties protected by our Constitution. This legislation also strengthens our democracy by placing congressional oversight on the executive branch,” said Khizr Khan, Gold Star Parent and constitutional rights and national unity advocate from Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Religious diversity is one of this nation’s greatest strengths,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “The NO BAN Act makes clear that immigration decisions must never be based on religious identity. As Jews, we know all too well what it means to be turned away from America’s shores because of our faith. This history reinforces our commitment to standing in solidarity with our Muslim family, refugees, and asylum seekers who hope to find safety and freedom in the United States, as immigrants have for hundreds of years.”

"This ban has devastated our communities, tearing apart thousands of families and making our youth feel invisible and unwanted in the only home they have ever known,” said Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders, whose family and community have been impacted by the ban. “This ban has become a legal justification that fuels the hatred threatening America. The NO BAN Act provides a way forward for us as a nation and, with its passing, will reunite our families and right the wrongs inflicted on our communities."

The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the third version of President Trump’s Muslim ban on June 26, 2018, which indefinitely bans travel from certain countries, including five Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. In 2018, the first year the ban was in full effect, the State Department rejected approximately 37,000 visa applications from the banned countries. In 2017, fewer than 1,000 were rejected.

The NO BAN Act seeks to combat the President’s Muslim ban by:

  • Immediately rescinding each version of the Muslim ban, as well as abuses of power harming refugees and individuals seeking asylum;
  • Amending the Immigration and Nationality Act’s nondiscrimination provision to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on religion and to apply all nondiscrimination protections to immigrant and nonimmigrant visas alike;
  • Limiting the President’s overly broad authority to issue future bans by requiring suspensions and restrictions to be temporary, based on credible facts, narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, and circumscribed to the least restrictive means possible.
  • Requiring the President to consult with the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security before restricting or suspending the entry of individuals, and increasing mandatory reporting requirements to Congress.
  • Providing a presumption in favor of granting humanitarian and family-based waivers.

The legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

In the House, cosponsors include Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif), Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Mark DeSaulnier (D-NY), Susan Delbene (D-WA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Andy Levin (D-MI), David Scott (D-GA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (D-GA), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Grace Meng (D-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Alma Adams (D-NC), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Al Green (D-TX), and Betty McCollum (D-MN).

The nearly 400 organizations supporting the NO BAN Act include Muslim Advocates, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the International Refugee Assistance Project, Interfaith Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, National Council of Churches, National Iranian American Council, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Church World Service, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, Amnesty International, the United Methodist Church, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, CREDO, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Support for the NO BAN Act:

Manar Waheed, Senior Legislative and Advocacy Counsel at the ACLU said: “This president has continually claimed broad executive powers to target Muslims and other marginalized communities he deems unworthy. After a historic failure by the Supreme Court to curtail these discriminatory actions, our elected representatives are finally taking action, providing immediate relief to those impacted by President Trump’s bans and working to ensure the INA can never again be exploited for discriminatory intent. While no Congressional action can erase the pain inflicted on Muslim communities by the Muslim ban, Congress can put in place standards and checks and balances to prevent other communities from enduring that same pain in the future. Today, Muslims, refugees, and asylum-seekers rise together against these bans—and all future bans. We look forward to seeing Members step up and do the same.”

Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service, said: “We are grateful to Senator Coons and Representative Chu for introducing the NO BAN Act. This legislation would bring much needed relief to individuals from Muslim majority countries, as well as refugees and asylum seekers who have been targeted and banned by President Trump’s various executive orders. The bill would also prevent future administrations from unilaterally discriminating against people based on their religion or banning groups of people in the future. We urge the Senate and House of Representatives to pass this bill and to do everything in their power to reunite the families that have been separated for years as a result of these bans.” 

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of National Immigration Law Center, said: “All of us  should be able to live free from fear that we will be separated from our loved ones solely because of where we were born or how we pray. The Trump administration put an irreparable moral stain on this nation’s conscience when it implemented the Muslim ban, and countless families have been hurt by this policy. Sen. Coons, Rep. Chu and others today have rightly announced a proposal that would get rid of the Muslim ban, as well as the refugee and asylum bans, and make it much more difficult for future administration to enact similar discriminatory policies.” 

Airbnb Vice President of Global Policy and Communications Chris Lehane said: “Airbnb believes that to restrict travel based on a person's nationality or religion is wrong and we are proud to endorse the NO BAN Act. Travel is a transformative and powerful experience, and we thank Senator Coons and Congresswoman Chu for supporting policies that open doors and build bridges between cultures around the world.”

Ryan Mace, Refugee Specialist at Amnesty International, said: “We face a global crisis with people displaced in every region of the world - from those who fled their homes today, to those born a refugee. We need real solutions that actually meet this crisis head on and treat refugees like the human beings they are, with human rights. The GRACE Act is a vital step towards restoring the United States’ commitment to the vital, and far underutilized, protection of resettlement to those who need it most.”

Rabbi Jack Moline, President of Interfaith Alliance, said: “The NO BAN Act is a critical piece of legislation beginning the long work of restoring true religious freedom and repairing America’s proud legacy as a nation of immigrants and safe bastion for refugees escaping persecution and strife. Banning any one faith tradition, as Trump has done, flies in the face of our founding principle of religious freedom. As an organization representing more than 75 faith communities, we know well that bigotry toward any tradition is an affront to all of us. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and in support of this critical piece of legislation.”

Vikrum Aiyer, Vice President of Global Public Policy & Strategy Communications at Postmates said: "As a platform that connects people from all walks of life to the tastes, scents, and goods that power our communities, the Muslim Ban goes against America’s core values and risks undermining neighborhood prosperity. That is why it is crucial for Congress to step in and right this wrong. And that is why our colleagues in any tech sector that taps into the vibrancy of communities around them to grow their marketplaces, must also stand on the right side of history. Thanks to the leadership of Sen. Coons (D-DE) and Rep. Chu (D-CA), this legislation would restore our country’s commitment to our highest ideals and protect a vital source of economic dynamism by dismantling and degrading policies of hate."

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law at Penn State University said: “The NO BAN Act provides a sensible solution to the human tragedy that has unfolded because of the Muslim ban. In full operation since December 2017, the ban continues to separate parents, spouses, students, and scholars who qualify for a green card or visa for no other reason than place of birth. The NO BAN Act sets important limits on the presidential power to block immigration based on religion and country of birth. These changes are consistent with the statute as a whole and the intent Congress had in 1965 when it struck down national origin quotas for good. Importantly, 56 law professors familiar with the history and structure of the immigration statute expressed its support for the NO BAN Act.”

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said: “President Trump’s Muslim travel ban is hateful, discriminatory, and xenophobic. Our elected officials cannot merely spectate while Islamophobia and racism increase across the nation. Members of Congress must pass this corrective measure to prevent any president from targeting groups in the future with discriminatory policies.”