US Congress votes against discrimination, passes NO BAN Act


On July 22nd, Congress passed a historic move that might make President Trump very happy.

The House voted to repeal the Trump administration’s travel ban and also restrict his power to limit entry to the US.

This is a symbolic victory for Muslim American and civil rights groups.

Popularly known as the No Ban Act, it was proposed to reverse Trump administration’s decision that prevented entry in to the US of citizens from 13 countries, in the name of ‘national security’. The No Ban Act would also strengthen prohibitions on religious discrimination in visa applications.

US Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington said that this bill represents an important step towards broader immigration reform efforts.

“We’re going to be pushing for comprehensive, humane immigration reform that really addresses the broken pieces of immigration law that we currently have,” Jayapal said. “That is absolutely essential.”.

The bill, which passed the Democrat-controlled House 233-183, had initially been slated for action in March, before the coronavirus forced scheduling changes on Capitol Hill.

“Banning foreign nationals based on national origin is against the ideals of our democracy and society. The current administration’s anti-immigrant discrimination in the name of national security needs to end. The NO BAN Act is important for Muslim and African communities as well as other communities that could be targeted discriminatorily. This Act would provide protections against discriminatory travel bans now and, in the future,,” says Shobhana J Verma, Executive Director of SAAPRI.

“This Act still needs to pass in the Senate, however, the House passage is a step forward. We stand for immigrants from all countries and creeds and SAAPRI will continue to stand with vulnerable minority communities and advocate for protecting their rights,” she added.

“This is a historic moment for Muslims,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, one of the groups working in support of the bill, said ahead of the vote.

Passage of the NO BAN act will “show Muslims, who have been banned and scapegoated by the Trump administration, that we deserve rights and dignity,” Khera added.

The White House noted its opposition to the bill in March, saying in a statement that undoing the travel ban “would harm the national security of the United States” and that the ban has been “central to the Administration’s ongoing efforts to safeguard the American people against the spread of COVID-19.”

In debate ahead of the vote, Democrats repeatedly blasted the travel ban that President Donald Trump first imposed in January 2017. They called it biased against Muslims, whose entry into the country Trump first suggested blocking during his 2016 White House run.

“It will be a proud day for this Congress when we invalidate the president’s infamous and ugly attempt to scapegoat people based on their religion,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md, said during floor debate ahead of the final vote.

The legislation goes beyond overturning Trump’s travel ban, which was retooled amid legal challenges and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018.

In addition to overturning the travel ban, the bill the House passed also prohibits religious discrimination in the application of immigration law and constrains the executive branch’s ability to limit entry to the U.S. by certain groups of people.