The NO BAN Act ultimately passed by a margin of 214-207.
The House passed a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit future presidents from barring groups of people from traveling to the United States based on religion, a response to Donald Trump's discriminatory Muslim travel ban, first implemented in 2017.
The bill passed by a margin of 214-207.
All 207 "no" votes were from Republicans.
The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act, was reintroduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), in February, and was designed to prevent another ban like the one implemented under Trump, which left travelers from several Muslim-majority countries stranded at airports and abroad, many of them separated from their loved ones and families.
"The Muslim Ban was always wrong, needless, and cruel and failed to live up to the requirements laid out by the Supreme Court. Religious bans have no place in our country or our laws and today, we are voting to make sure this never happens again," Chu said during an impassioned floor speech on Wednesday.
Though Chu's 2019 version of the bill passed the House, with the help of just two Republican lawmakers at that time — Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) and now-retired Rep. Will Hurd of Texas — it was never brought up for a vote in the Senate, which was under the control of then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump's initial travel ban, which faced pushback in the courts for years, was predicated on the myth of national security concerns, and claims that those coming in from the Muslim-majority nations somehow posed an inherent threat to Americans.
As Vox noted in 2017, "More Americans have been killed in attacks by white American men with no connection to Islam than by Muslim terrorists or foreigners."
Still, Republicans echoed Trump's rhetoric ahead of the House vote on Wednesday.
"A vote for the #NOBANAct is a vote for an open door for terrorists to enter our country," tweeted Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), along with a virtual poster that said, "Democrats are rolling out the red carpet for terrorists."
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) tweeted on Wednesday, "The Dems' so-called 'NO BAN Act' puts political correctness over our own national security interests. This bill completely undermines the president’s authority to take quick and decisive actions to protect our nation."
Critics of the Muslim ban pushed back fiercely on those claims lauding Wednesday's passage of the NO BAN Act.
Maggie Siddiqi, senior director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement, "Religious discrimination should have no place in our country’s immigration system. People of all faiths and no faith are welcome here. The NO BAN Act helps our nation more fully realize the promise of religious freedom."
She added, "America’s diverse religious communities eagerly await the Senate taking action to protect this bedrock American value."
The center's acting vice president of Immigration Policy, Philip E. Wolgin, added that the bill's passage was long overdue.
"[It] will wipe away one of the biggest stains of the Trump administration’s sustained—literally from its first week in office—anti-Muslim and anti-African discrimination and will ensure that such abuses of immigration authority are not possible in the future," Wolgin said in a statement.
Democratic lawmakers who backed the bill also spoke out, noting the necessity of preventing future bans from ever being implemented.
"The Muslim ban will forever be a moral stain on our country’s history," said Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. "...It's time to put this ban in the dustbin of history where it belongs with the No Ban Act — legislation that will ensure no future president has the power to ban people based on their religious affiliation ever again."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.