House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that the chamber will mark up and bring to the floor legislation introduced last year that would reverse the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, as well as “limit the President’s ability to impose such biased and bigoted restrictions,” she said in a statement on Monday. The announcement came on the initial ban’s third anniversary—and as reports say that impeached president Donald Trump may add as many as seven additional nations to his list.
Reuters reports that Nigeria, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan, and Tanzania may be added to the travel ban list, which has reportedly blindsided leaders in those countries. “Nigeria had no warning from Washington that it could be added to the list of countries subject to a U.S. travel ban, information minister Lai Mohammed said on Monday,” Reuters said. Mohammed told Reuters, “A travel ban is going to send the wrong signal to investors, it is going to stifle the good of the country and vulnerable people who need medication and schools will be the most affected.”
The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act, introduced in April 2019 by Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware and Rep. Judy Chu of California, would presumably block this effort and reverse the harms of the existing ban. During a historic House hearing last fall, Ismail Alghazali, a U.S. citizen, testified that his wife and two young children had been stuck in Yemen and unable to join him due to the ban. “I’ve never even met my daughter,” he told legislators. “I have never held her in my arms. I’ve only seen her through photos and videos.”
The Muslim ban, the Council on American-Islamic Relations told legislators, “is responsible for separating thousands of families. It has kept loved ones from being together for countless weddings, graduations, funerals, and in the case of Shaima Swileh, it nearly kept a mother from seeing her dying 2-year-old son again before he was taken off life support.” The organization further said, “So far, the Trump administration has failed in its public responsibility to answer … fundamental questions about the Muslim Ban.” And now the administration wants to expand it even further.
While the NO BAN Act is, as Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld wrote last year, “DOA as long [as] Republicans maintain control of either chamber and Trump occupies the White House,” that shouldn’t mean that Democrats shouldn’t do the right thing. “House Democrats continue to stand opposed to President Trump’s cruel, un-American travel ban in all of its iterations,” Pelosi said. “In the coming weeks, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up and bring to the Floor the NO BAN Act to prohibit religious discrimination in our immigration system and limit the President’s ability to impose such biased and bigoted restrictions.”
“It is time to end the arbitrary punishment of the Muslim American community,” Chu, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Rep. Max Rose of New York wrote in an op-ed published by The American Independent. “We are proud to have 214 representatives — almost half of the entire House of Representatives—as cosponsors on our No Ban Act. And we believe that now is the time to stop, not expand, the pain and division of the Muslim ban.”