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On January 31, the Trump administration announced it would dramatically expand the existing Muslim Ban to include banning six additional countries from immigrant or diversity visas, including Burma, Kyrgystan Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania and Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation. The ban on visa issuance by religion and national origin has now taken on an explicitly racial dimension by banning certain visas for roughly one-quarter of all Africans.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a mark-up of H.R. 2214, the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act or the NO BAN Act, a bill to prevent and redress the President’s bans, including the new expansion. The Committee is also scheduled to mark-up H.R. 5581, the Access to Counsel Act of 2020, a bill to provide access to legal counsel for people placed in secondary screening at ports of entry and, if enacted, would help to prevent many of the serious issues recently faced by Americans of Iranian descent who were detained for hours after returning home from brief trips to Canada.
The following is a statement by Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
President Trump wants to make it clear to his voters, the American people and the world that people of color, Muslims, working class people, and pregnant women are others who are not welcome in America. The President says the country is full, while he decries immigration from what he terms “shithole countries,” calls Latino immigrants criminals and rapists and says immigrants from Nigeria will “never go back to their huts” once they have seen America. At his weekly political rallies, the President continues his broad assault on immigrants, characterizing Latinos, Muslims and all migrants as threats to our safety and way of life in America. Racism, grievances, divisiveness and fear are at the heart of his political strategy to gain reelection, as he takes health care benefits and picks the pockets of his supporters.
In the face of the President’s effort to divide Americans, the House Judiciary Committee is stepping up to prepare legislation for the full House that would alleviate the bans the President has put in place and restore equality to our visa and immigration systems so that they remain free of discrimination along religious, racial, sexist and national origin lines. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), working with other key House allies and in parallel to legislation in the Senate, has authored the bill that would repeal the Muslim ban in all its iterations.
It is critically important to who America is as a country that our immigration and visa policies do not discriminate and that we restore our immigration, refugee and asylum systems so that they are orderly, fair and reflect the long-held values of America as a proud nation of immigrants and refugees. Trump’s willingness to use race and religion to spark divisions in American society should not be allowed to stand. The House is taking a first step to roll back the President’s discriminatory policies.
In addition, the House Judiciary Committee will mark-up legislation that would allow access to counsel to those placed in secondary inspection by government agents at airports and other ports of entry. This is an important due process protection for Americans and immigrants alike who are often caught up in an opaque process at the border that can result in serious constitutional and legal violations without access to lawyers.