(FiveNation.com)- House Democrats are trying to limit the power of presidents in the future from putting in place travel bans.
This week, the House passed their bill almost entirely along party lines. Only one Republican voted in favor of the bill, with the final vote tally coming in at 218-208.
The bill is called the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, or the NO BAN Act. The bill would explicitly prohibit any religious discrimination in all decisions regarding immigration.
All immigration restrictions passed down from the executive branch could only be done if there’s a “compelling government interest” for doing so. In those cases, both the Department of Homeland Security and State Department would need to consult with Congress before acting. They’d have to provide evidence that justifies the restriction as well as how long it would be in effect for.
The author of the bill, California Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat who also chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said:
“We must make sure no president is ever able to ban people from coming to the U.S. simply because of their religion.”
What she and other Democrats are referring to with this bill is the ban former President Donald Trump imposed on several countries that have Muslim majorities during his time in the White House.
In 2017, during his first week in the White House, Trump signed an executive order that limited visas from several countries that are predominantly Muslim. The travel ban saw many revisions.
It included five Muslim-majority countries including Yemen, Syria, Iran, Somalia and Libya. Ultimately, Venezuela and North Korea were added to the list.
The Supreme Court even upheld the travel ban in 2018.
Republicans countered this point by saying the bill would undermine the authority of the executive branch unnecessarily. Instead, they called for legislation that is focused on the continuing crisis at the southern border.
As Republican Representative Andy Biggs from Arizona said:
“It is the president in whom all executive power vests, who should determine whether to suspend entry and not just in consultation, with the permission, with State and Homeland Security.”
On his first day in the White House earlier this year, current President Joe Biden rescinded Trump’s travel ban, which fulfilled one of the promises he made on the campaign trail. In doing so, he said:
“Make no mistake: Where there are threats to our nation, we will address them. Where there are opportunities to strengthen information-sharing with partners, we will pursue them. And when visa applicants request entry to the United States, we will apply a rigorous, individualized vetting system.
“But we will not turn our backs on our values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States.”
House Democrats didn’t stop there, though. They took further action Wednesday by passing a bill that would ensure that both citizens and people with legal status who are detained at any port of entry in the U.S. could consult with an attorney who could help them understand their rights.
This bill also passed along party lines, with a total vote tally of 217-207.
Both of these bills will now head to the U.S. Senate, where they will likely face stiff opposition from Republicans. Since Democrats need to get 60 votes in approval, it may be unlikely that either of these liberal-backed bills become law.