The Brennan Center for Justice and 383 other civil society organizations signed onto a letter to Congress expressing strong support for the “National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act.” The NO BAN Act, set to be introduced by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) later this week, sends a powerful message repudiating religious bigotry while also establishing safeguards to prevent any future discriminatory ban.
More than two years since the first iteration of the Muslim Ban was issued by President Trump, the ban’s devastating consequences for American families, businesses, and educational institutions remain particularly acute. The groups recognize that the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA)—as currently formulated—gives the President nearly unfettered statutory authority to suspend or restrict the entry of non-citizens. Importantly, the letter calls on Congress to take a clear stance against the Muslim Ban and religious discrimination stating that “how someone prays should not dictate whether the government can ban them from coming to the United States.”
The NO BAN Act includes important features to ensure the President’s authority in the immigration context is exercised responsibly, including:
Strengthened Antidiscrimination Protections: The NO BAN Act expands the Immigration & Nationality Act’s antidiscrimination provision by making clear that it applies to the issuance of a broad range of immigration benefits, including both temporary and permanent visas. The bill also adds religion to the INA’s existing protections against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, nationality, place of birth, and place of residence.
Limitations on Executive Power: The bill limits the President’s authority to institute blanket entry restrictions. These changes bring the text of the INA into better alignment with how Presidents of both parties have traditionally exercised that authority.
Transparency and Accountability Provisions: The bill enhances the responsible use of Presidential authority under the INA by requiring interagency consultation prior to taking actions that block the entry of foreign nationals into the U.S., incorporating congressional notification and reporting requirements, and equipping judges with clear standards that they can use to evaluate whether a given action is appropriately limited.