US House committee pushes forward 'No Ban Act' for vote in Congress
The House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary moved on Wednesday to push the No Ban Act to the House floor for a vote.
If passed by both the House and the Senate, the bill could potentially end the travel ban, called a Muslim ban by many, that was initiated by President Donald Trump.
After a hearing by the judiciary committee, members of the committee voted almost unanimously to pass the bill, introduced by Congresswoman Judy Chu, on to the House floor.
There it will be voted on by all 435 members of the House, and if it passes it will move on to the Senate for a vote.
Still, it is unlikely to pass in the Republican-majority Senate.
"Tens of thousands of American Muslims have been cruelly separated from their families by the ban and now thousands more families stand to be separated by the expanded ban taking effect later this month," Farhana Khera, executive director of the rights group Muslim Advocates, said in a statement.
Trump's original travel ban was issued during his first week in office in January 2017.
In 2018, after a myriad of legal challenges to the travel ban, the Supreme Court upheld the third version of it.
The ban bars all immigrants and travelers from Muslim-majority countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as from Venezuela and North Korea.
Last week, the Trump administration released a new extension to the travel ban to include Sudan, Tanzania, Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee criticised the extension of the ban, saying: "It is not every single Sudanese, it is not every single Eritrean, it is not every single Nigerian, it is not every single Tanzanian".
House judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said that the ban "is ugly" and "disgusting" and "unworthy of the United States".
'This historic bill could be the first ever passed by a chamber of Congress to specifically affirm the civil rights of American Muslims'
- Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates
Khera said: "This needless suffering has not made us safer and instead furthers President Trump’s bigoted agenda of excluding Muslims, Africans, immigrants and other people of color from the story of America."
"This historic bill could be the first ever passed by a chamber of Congress to specifically affirm the civil rights of American Muslims."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), applauded the committee's efforts but said it must act quickly to ensure that "religious discrimination will never be accepted by the American people".
"For three long years the Trump administration's white supremacist agenda of separating American families under the Muslim Ban has largely gone unchecked by Congress," CAIR's Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.
"That has changed today with the House Judiciary Committee's approval of the NO BAN Act."
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