Lofgren Opening Statement on the NO BAN Act

February 12, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Chair of the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee, delivered the below remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of H.R. 2214, the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act:

Her remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

“We’ve spent a great deal of time examining the impetus and the aftermath of the Administration’s Muslim Ban. I wish that today’s markup of the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, or NO BAN Act, wasn’t necessary. But unfortunately, it’s more important than ever.  

“As a result of the Administration’s most recent expansion of the ban—in the form of Presidential Proclamation 9983—and the president’s relentless attempts to rewrite our immigration laws, immediate steps must be taken to rein in his repeated abuses of executive authority. 

“Now as a candidate for president, Donald Trump promised to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. He suggested—without any evidence—that it would somehow make our country safer, and immediately upon entering office, he tried to deliver politically on that promise, only to have his first Executive Order stopped by the courts as unlawful.

“As we discussed in the joint hearing with the Foreign Affairs Committee in September, it took the President 10 months, three attempts, and the inclusion of what looks to be a bogus waiver process, to persuade a majority of the Supreme Court that the ban was not inspired by religious animus.

“The Administration claims that the ban is necessary to keep our country safe from terrorist threats. And yet, a bipartisan coalition of former national security officials concluded otherwise. According to Madeline Albright, General Michael Hayden, former Senator Richard Lugar, and many others, ‘overwhelming evidence’ demonstrates that the ban failed to advance our national security and foreign policy interests and is, in fact, damages those interests.

“Now, in addition to invalidating President Trump’s multiple iterations of the Muslim Ban, this bill prohibits executive overreach in immigration law more generally. This bill amends section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to realign that section with its intended purpose and historical norms. 

“What this administration is doing is very much an outlier to how the section has been used historically. Before January of 2017, both Republican and Democratic presidents had invoked the section, as mentioned by the Chairman, in targeted situations, to exclude well-defined groups of individuals. In contrast, President Trump invoked 212(f) sweepingly, and without really any adequate justification.  

“He cited, as the chairman has mentioned, 212(f) to circumvent the clear statutory requirements related to asylum; the litigation on that is not yet concluded. Some have suggested that we should do something about the asylum situation, and my thought has been: what, should we reenact the Immigration and Nationality Act? Because it’s very clear that what the President has done violates the statute.

“I believe that the President has misused section 212(f) when it comes to asylees seeking to make their claim. And you know, what’s really important is that Congress writes the laws, including the immigration laws, not the executive branch. That violates the Constitution. The power to write the laws is ours, not the President’s. And because of this repeated overreach, this bill is necessary. The bill is not targeted to President Trump; it’s targeted to the Executive Branch, saying you do not have the authority to rewrite the immigration laws of the United States.

“And I would like to address the issue of DACA, which is on its way to the Supreme Court. There was substantial legal work done on that; I participated in it. The research indicated that there was firm basis in law, as well as ample historical precedent. The parole authority used was used extensively by President Reagan, President Ford, and President Eisenhower. Some have objected to that; we will get a ruling from the Court and see whether the legal research at that time holds up to scrutiny by the Supreme Court. But it was not done without basis in law. It was not done without historical precedent. This, in contrast, is just a complete rewrite of the law, and at odds with the clear language of the statute and all of the precedent that proceeded it both by Republican and Democratic presidents.

“I want to thank our colleague Representative Chu for her leadership and steadfast commitment to this issue. Her efforts led to the introduction of this legislation, and I hope that we are able to pass this bill out of committee today.”