House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House will take up a bill to repeal President Trump’s travel ban, which bars citizens of certain countries with high rates of extremist violence from entering the U.S. on national security grounds.
Pelosi’s announcement came on the third anniversary of Trump signing orders to suspend immigration from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia in his first week in office.
Pelosi said that the House would take up legislation authored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) to repeal the Trump administration’s travel ban and limit the president from establishing future restrictions unless the administration provides specific evidence to justify it and consults with Congress. The bill, which Chu introduced last April, would also amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on religion.
“House Democrats continue to stand opposed to President Trump’s cruel, un-American travel ban in all of its iterations. 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,” Pelosi said in a statement.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Monday that his panel would take up the bill in two weeks. The bill was introduced in April, and is supported by nearly 250 members of Congress and hundreds of civil rights, faith, national security and community organisations from across the country.
“It is essential that we take away the president’s power to put prejudice into policy,” Chu said at a press conference.
The announcement comes after Trump confirmed last week that he plans to expand the travel ban to more countries, though he did not list which ones. Multiple media outlets have reported that the countries could include Belarus, Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
Any additions to the travel ban are certain to spark legal challenges.
The bill has a chance of passing in the Democratic-led House, but faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.
In a news conference held outside the US Senate, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, one of the authors of the NO BAN Act denounced what he called the “intentional use of cruelty” in the Trump’s administration’s immigration policy and said the Muslim ban was based on “prejudice, populism and discrimination”, rather than fact or security considerations.
Trump’s first travel ban, which targeted several Muslim-majority countries, was announced without warning on January 27, 2017, days after the president took office. It created outrage and led to chaos in airports across the country as hundreds of travellers were detained and thousands of previously issued visas to the US were revoked.
The Supreme Court narrowly ruled in 2018 to uphold the third version of the travel ban, which applied to people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea to varying degrees. That version was watered down from the original travel ban, which also included Sudan and Iraq. The previous two iterations of the travel ban had been invalidated by lower-court rulings.
The current ban suspends immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from the affected countries, but it allows exceptions, including for students and those who have established “significant contacts” in the US.
Trump campaigned in 2016 on a promise to ban Muslim immigrants and refugees from entering the country.
He has made cracking down on immigration the focus of his presidency and it is a core topic for his reelection drive before the November 3 vote. He has pushed for the building of a border wall along the US’s southern border to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from entering through Mexico.