The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 25-17 to advance the NO BAN Act, legislation that would block any future president from enacting another Muslim ban or similar discriminatory measure. While Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to terminate the previous president’s ban on day one of his presidency, “the threat of a future immigration ban on Muslims, Africans or other nationalities and religions persists,” advocates said.
“With today’s vote, the House Judiciary Committee has brought us closer to ensuring that this cruel discrimination never happens again,” Muslim Advocates said. “Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban was born out of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate. Unfortunately, these forces still thrive in our politics and could easily be harnessed again to score political points by banning and separating families. That is why we must pass the NO BAN Act.”
“Muslim Advocates has worked with members of Congress to support [the] bill and also leads the NO BAN Act coalition, an alliance of over 100 diverse civic, civil rights, faith and community organizations fighting to end the ban and pass the NO BAN Act,” the organization said. The group noted that over 400 organization signed onto a letter leading to the committee hearing urging legislators advance the bill.
“Regrettably, the Muslim Ban validated the worst stereotypes about Muslims; that they are inherently foreign and violent and pose such a threat to the United States they should be banned,” that letter said. “The ban on Muslims came after generations of politicians hostile to religious minorities have attempted to ban Jews, Catholics, and Latter-day Saints. Congress now has an opportunity to take action against this troubling history by sending a strong message that our nation rejects religious bigotry.”
The previous occupant of the White House subsequently widened his discriminatory ban to a number of African nations, including Nigeria and Eritrea. “Media outlets have primarily framed this as a ‘new U.S. travel ban’ or a ‘travel ban extension,’ but Black immigrants are calling it what it is: an Africa ban,” Tina Vasquez wrote for Prism last year.
“This is an Africa ban and we need to talk about it that way,” Black Alliance for Just Immigration organizer and Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project steering committee member Zack Mohamed told Vasquez at the time. “This ban stops Black people’s ability to move freely and this latest Africa ban yet again sends the clear message that Black immigrants are not welcome in the U.S. Their religion is not welcome. They are not welcome.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that ”[b]ecause of the ban, families have been ripped apart, students have been deprived of educational opportunities, the sick have been blocked from receiving treatment, talented workers have lost out on jobs, and refugees have been trapped in dangerous conditions.”
The NO BAN Act’s initial passage in the House last year was historic, becoming the “first ever passed by a chamber of Congress to specifically affirm the civil rights of American Muslims,” Muslim Advocates executive director Farhana Khera said at the time. The bill passed the House in July, with just two Republicans joining Democrats, but then stalled in the Senate due to Republican leaders.
Biden pledged during the 2020 race to sign the bill should it come to his desk. Then in February, California Rep. Judy Chu and Delaware Sen. Chris Coons reintroduced the legislation.
“Today’s vote is a necessary step toward preventing presidents from abusing immigration laws in order to discriminate against Black and Brown immigrants, including Muslims,” said American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative and advocacy counsel Manar Waheed. “The House must now swiftly bring the NO BAN Act to the floor to take the next step in protecting Black and Brown immigrants against discrimination.”
In a statement recognizing the Holy Month of Ramadan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to pass the bill this month. “The Muslim Ban was a hateful stain on our nation,” Chu said when reintroducing the bill in February. “Inspired only by bigotry and not any genuine national security concerns, the ban served only to separate families while stoking bigotry, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. That is why I was so grateful when President Joe Biden took action on his first day in office to rescind all versions of this ban. However, we cannot risk letting prejudice become policy again.”