House Passes NO BAN Act and Access to Counsel Act
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | July 2020
On July 22, the House of Representatives passed two FAIR-opposed bills – the NO BAN Act and the Access to Counsel Act – by votes of 233-183 and 231-184, respectively. These radical Democrat proposals are effectively dead in the upper chamber.
NO BAN Act
The NO BAN Act makes several disturbing changes to the President’s 212(f) authority. This includes stripping the President’s ability to determine if classes of aliens represent a threat to the United States. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) sponsored the bill.
If the NO BAN Act were to become law, the President would have been unable to quickly restrict travel from China and Europe at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, endangering Americans. The bill instead transfers this authority to the State Department, which must consult with Congress before taking any action.
Most egregiously, Section 4 of the bill reverses some of the most effective travel restrictions issued by President Trump during his term. These executive orders and proclamations targeted countries identified as state sponsors of terrorism or failed states by both the Bush and Obama administrations. The orders affected are Presidential Proclamations 9645, 9822, and 9983 and Executive Orders 13769, 13780, and 13815.
This bill also represents politics at its worst, particularly in the midst of a global health pandemic. Democrats originally debated it on March 11, at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. That very same day, President Trump used his 212(f) authority to protect Americans by banning travel from Europe, the epicenter of the virus at that time. Democratic leadership – realizing their bill would have prevented the President from ever doing this or his original ban of travel from China – quickly pulled the bill from consideration later that day. Yet now, in the heat of election season as COVID-19 still rages, they voted to pass this partisan messaging bill to appease radicals in their caucus.
Only two Republicans voted in favor of the NO BAN Act - Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas). No Democrats voted against the bill.
Access to Counsel Act
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that governs immigration law, illegal aliens cannot receive taxpayer-funded legal counsel. While the Access to Counsel Act does not overturn that provision, it creeps up to the precipice. Rep. Primila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sponsored this legislation, which the House passed on an entirely partisan basis with no Democratic opposition and no Republican support.
The Access to Counsel Act would drastically increase wait times at ports of entry by guaranteeing those selected for additional screening access to counsel. Often, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sends travelers to a second screening because they have reason to believe they are smuggling drugs or human beings.
Further, under current law, applicants for entry to the United States do not have guaranteed access to counsel unless they become the subject of a criminal investigation. This bill gives every potential applicant for entry to the United States the guaranteed access to counsel, even nonimmigrant temporary visitors.
This bill reflects the Democrats’ belief that everyone has a fundamental right to enter the United States, regardless of the strength of their claim. Lastly, it is a de facto monetary giveaway to partisan immigration lawyers who can now expect even more business at the border.