House Committee Advances Legislation to End Travel Ban
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | February 2020
On February 12, the House Committee on the Judiciary held a markup for H.R. 2214, the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, or NO BAN Act. The NO BAN Act prevents the president from enacting travel bans or restricting entry into the country, except in the case of extreme emergencies.
The bill is a direct shot at President Trump, who enacted a series of travel bans early in his term which activists challenged in court. Eventually, the Supreme Court held that the final iteration of the travel ban was constitutional, codifying travel restrictions on Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela. Even the Obama administration noted that these countries are longstanding hotbeds of terrorism and anti-American violence. Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia continue to fight brutal civil wars.
In the markup, the committee’s Democratic members largely argued that the President enacted the travel restrictions solely to bar Muslim entry to the country, and supported the NO BAN Act’s quick passage. Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-CA) stated in his opening remarks,
“H.R. 2214 will stop this executive overreach by amending section 212(f) to ensure it is used in a manner consistent with its intended purpose and historical norms. It will also explicitly repeal all three iterations of the Muslim Ban to ensure that we live up to our nation’s founding ideals.”
Republicans countered by suggesting that President Trump had the authority to issue such bans and that the bill hobbled his ability to quickly react to changing international circumstances. Ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) said that “Under this bill, only the secretary of state can determine that the entry of aliens is a threat to the U.S. This is problematic in instances where other cabinet officials should be involved.” Rep. Collins also noted that “the information sharing — on terrorists, criminals, and other security threats — that has derived between the U.S. and other countries with travel restrictions would stop.”
Members of the committee voted on five amendments, of which only three required recorded votes. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ.) offered an amendment which would strike the Secretary of State’s authority to restrict entry and restore it to the president. The committee rejected it 13-22, as this undercut the entire purpose of the Democratic bill.
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) requested that the bill add Presidential Proclamation 9983 as one of the executive actions terminated. PP 9983 is the recent expansion of the original act that restricts the issuance of immigrant visas to nationals from Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria while banning Tanzania and Sudan from the diversity visa program. The committee passed this amendment by a 19-8 vote.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ.) offered another amendment which altered a clause which requires the President and relevant cabinet members to use the “least restrictive means” when tailoring restrictions. The committee rejected this amendment 11-18.
The committee voted 22-10 on a party-line vote to favorably report the bill to the House, where it will likely pass in the coming weeks. However, the bill’s chance at becoming law is nonexistent and will likely die on the desk of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.).