Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) voted for two bills related to the arrival of non-citizens to our ports of entry: the NO BAN Act and the Access to Counsel Act of 2021. The No BAN Act provides a check on the President’s authority by requiring that any suspension or restriction of entry of non-citizens into the U.S. is based on specific and credible facts, is narrowly tailored, specifies a duration, and includes waivers. The Access to Counsel Act of 2021 would ensure that individuals held in secondary inspection for at least one hour at a port of entry with valid travel documents can communicate with a family member, counsel, or other interested party.

In January 2017, former 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. The original executive order, commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban,” and a second version were struck down by the courts, but the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s third version of the ban in June 2018.

“I commend President Biden for revoking the previous administration’s Muslim Ban,” said Rep. Peters. “By requiring solid evidence to justify any travel ban in the future, the NO BAN Act will make sure that future Presidents cannot arbitrarily discriminate as part of any administration’s decision to limit entry into the country.”

The Access to Counsel Act of 2021 would ensure that individuals who are seeking to lawfully enter the United States are treated with dignity by addressing a gap in due process. All individuals—including U.S. citizens and green card holders—who seek to lawfully enter the United States are subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry, but they are often denied a request to call a family member or their counsel if they are subjected to a lengthy inspection process.

This bill has the potential to affect millions of people in our San Diego-Tijuana border region, which has one of the busiest land crossings in the world. In 2019, more than 10,000,000 pedestrians and over 25,000,000 passengers in personal vehicles crossed into the United States through the San Ysidro port of entry alone. Many of these individuals seek to reunite with family members, receive critical medical attention, or pursue their educational goals, but can face significant challenges when questioned about their documentation.

This bill would allow such individuals to consult a family member, counsel, university, or other interested party who could help prove their eligibility for entry to a CBP officer. The bill permits counsel and interested parties to appear in person at the port of entry to the extent practicable, but also gives DHS and CBP enough discretion to determine—based on operational and other practical limitations—how the consultation takes place and specifically permits consultation via telephone.