A Virginia congressman recently announced a bill that would officially make it illegal for the United States to ban any immigrant on the grounds of their religion. The brief measure, outlined in just one sentence, could be seen as a symbolic effort to block a proposal of presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has repeatedly promised to implement a temporary immigration ban on Muslims.
The text of the bill, proposed by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), reads, “An alien may not be denied admission to the United States because of the alien’s religion or lack of religious beliefs.” Beyer unveiled the bill at a news conference earlier this week together with five Democrat lawmakers, as well as a dozens of representatives from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and atheist groups—a show of unity amidst strong rhetoric against immigrants and minority groups.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) spoke of recent examples of bullying targeted against immigrants, mentioning a case of violence against Muslim in his district in Queens.
“When a candidate for president, a standard-bearer, calls for a ban on an entire religion from entering this country, this is what happens,” Crowley said. He praised Beyer’s bill, calling it an important piece of legislation.
Donald Trump’s Immigration Stance
Along the campaign trail, Donald Trump has not shied away from making controversial statements, even pledging to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep immigrants from entering the country.
Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, however, has yet to be backed by any viable plans, and it remains unclear how he would implement such a widespread ban on Muslims, or whether the Office of the President even has the power to prohibit all Muslims from entering the United States.
Although non-U.S. citizens are not protected by the Constitution, international agreements would technically make such a blanket ban illegal.
But be that as it may, this bill still seeks to prevent any president from taking such a drastic course of action. According to Beyer’s office, 54 Democrats have pledged to co-sponsor the bill. Richard Hanna of New York, a Republican, has even crossed party lines to support the legislation.
Skeptical Reaction from Lawyers
Some lawyers, however, have questioned the bills effects and pointed out how unlikely it would pass in a Republican-controlled Congress.
According to Michael McConnell of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, the bill is well meaning but isn’t a sensible approach to the issue, and ignores how Congress often wants authorities to look at an immigrant’s religion, as in the case of refugees escaping from religious persecution.
“Religion is legitimately part of determinations under immigration. Barring all Muslims is wrong. But barring all consideration of religion is wrong too,” he said.
To learn more about how this proposed legislation would affect your rights as an immigrant, talk to the immigration law experts of Lyttle Law Firm. Call us today at (512) 215.5225, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.