Rep. Scanlon Votes to Outlaw Discriminatory Religious Travel Bans, Protect Due Process Rights at Ports of Entry
Washington, April 21, 2021
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) voted to pass H.R. 1333, the NO BAN Act, and H.R. 1573, the Access to Counsel Act of 2021. Together, these landmark pieces of legislation would prevent future presidents from issuing travel bans that discriminate based on religion, such as the previous administration’s Muslim Ban, and ensure certain due process protections for individuals detained while attempting to lawfully enter the country at ports of entry.
“Our nation was founded on the idea of personal liberty — including freedom of religion. At our best, our nation is a beacon of liberty and opportunity for immigrants seeking a brighter future within our borders,” said Rep. Scanlon. “The Muslim Ban — and the chaos at our ports of entry that followed — was a stain on our nation. When the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban was announced, I spent weeks dispatching volunteer attorneys to airports, mobilizing translators, and organizing legal efforts to oppose this ill-conceived ban. Today, I proudly voted for the NO BAN Act to help make sure no president ever abuses their authority in this way again, and to bring us one step closer to delivering on the promise of America.”
In 2017, President Donald Trump abused executive authority by issuing three versions of his Muslim Ban, barring foreign nationals from several Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. In doing so, many Muslim American citizens and other individuals with legal status were detained indefinitely at ports of entry without the ability to consult with family or an attorney. This caused great hardship, confusion, and chaos for Muslims in the United States and around the world.
Though President Biden has rescinded the Trump bans, these two bills are necessary to restore the separation of powers, prevent future executive overreach, and safeguard due process protections. The NO BAN Act strengthens immigration law by explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on religion. The Access to Counsel Act ensures that those seeking to lawfully enter the country at ports of entry have the right to communicate with legal counsel, family members, and others who can assist with verifying the legal status of their travel.
“Access to counsel is critical for ensuring the fair and equitable enforcement of our laws — especially those related to immigration matters,” added Rep. Scanlon. “Individuals requiring counsel often need language assistance and are nervous about the gravity of the situation, which also makes them particularly vulnerable to poor decision making. The inability for immigrants to speak to an attorney or seek assistance from family members can have devastating consequences, including refusal of admission into our country or even expedited removal.”
Both of these bills passed the Democratic-led House in the previous Congress. However, the legislation died in the Senate after the Republican-controlled chamber refused to bring them up for a vote.
A copy of the NO BAN Act can be found here.
A copy of the Access to Counsel Act can be found here.