Rep. Peters’ support of the NO BAN Act fights discrimination based on religion, limits executive authority for future travel bans
July 22, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) helped the House pass the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act. As a co-sponsor of this bill, Rep. Peters firmly recognizes its importance as a counterweight to the president’s authority concerning numerous immigration-related decisions.
In January 2017, President Trump issued a travel ban suspending entry into the U.S. for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries considered to be state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. As a result, more than 700 travelers were detained and 60,000 visas were ‘provisionally revoked.’ The nature of the executive order prompted Rep. Peters to lead 70 of his colleagues in a letter to the Department of Justice, requesting a report on the process involved in the drafting, evaluation, and signing of the policy. Although the original executive order, commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban,” and a second version were struck down by the courts, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s third version of the ban in June 2018. Earlier this year, the administration added six more countries to the list including Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
“The President’s ban is disguised under the pretext of national security, but it was clearly designed to target and discriminate against individuals solely based on their religion or national origin,” Rep. Peters said. “By demanding evidence to justify any future travel ban, we’re holding the current and subsequent administrations accountable.”
The legislation passed today realigns U.S. policy with the principle that no one should be subjected to religious discrimination. It rescinds the president’s travel ban, and limits the president’s broad authority to issue future bans by requiring suspensions and restrictions to be temporary, based on facts, and narrowly tied to a compelling national interest. This bill also addresses the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by including a provision that leaves room for executive power to protect the United States from the spread of contagious diseases, including the 2019 coronavirus.
In addition to the legal questions raised by the administration’s ban, this policy has been a source of agony for thousands of families in diverse and profound ways. Research from 2019 by the Cato Institute revealed that as of January 1, 2019, the travel ban had already prevented more than 9,000 spouses and adopted minor children from uniting with their U.S. citizen spouse or parent. Policies like this one also have a significant impact on the economy. The 52nd Congressional district relies on its science, technology and innovation sectors. If foreign workers in these fields aren’t allowed to enter the country with their families, they won’t agree to come to the U.S. to work in our companies and share their expertise.
“This policy has led to the indefinite and heartbreaking separation of families throughout my district and around the country, making U.S. citizens and permanent residents decide between their established life in the U.S. or leaving to be with family in their native countries,” Rep. Peters continued. “Forcing people to make these decisions is not only unnecessary and cruel, it refutes our long-standing history as a welcoming country for all. ”