- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2020

House Democrats are set to vote on dismantling President Trump’s travel ban this week and rein in the executive branch’s authority to declare travel restrictions.

Known as the No Ban Act, the bill would reverse restrictions on the countries under the travel ban and strengthen provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act that prohibit religious discrimination.

The legislation would require that any future travel ban be temporary, subject to congressional oversight and be based in response to specific actions from foreign agents that pose a threat to the U.S.

“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 Rep. Judy Chu of California, when she introduced legislation with Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware in April 2019.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling in June 2018, upheld the president’s travel ban, deciding the third iteration of the policy did not specially target Muslims and that Congress had given the presidency wide berth to order restrictions.

The decision allowed the administration to restrict entry from citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen — because they were determined to be uncooperative in sharing information the U.S. needed to vet incoming visitors. The version approved by the Supreme Court allowed citizens from those countries to apply for waivers from the ban.

A new version of that plan went into effect last month, with Mr. Trump expanding the list to 13 countries, adding Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The new countries are subject to a less restrictive ban, as only applicants from certain programs are affected.

“It is fundamental to national security, and the height of common sense, that if a foreign nation wishes to receive the benefits of immigration and travel to the United States, it must satisfy basic security conditions outlined by America’s law-enforcement and intelligence professionals,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement at the time.

Last week, Mr. Trump said his administration is considering establishing a travel ban on visitors from countries that have seen a severe outbreak of the coronavirus, though he did not specify which countries would be on the list.

In addition to the No Ban Act, the House is set to vote on a bill sponsored by Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramilla Jayapal of Washington, which would give those detained at the border an opportunity to call a lawyer or “a person of critical importance” to arrange legal assistance.

“Most of those people, of course, are U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents so far, but this is just a simple ability to access counsel, not to have it paid for by the government,” the Washington congresswoman said. 

• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.


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