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House Delegation Introduces Freedom Of Religion Act In Response To President Trump’s Muslim Ban

In response to President Trump’s unlawful, immoral Executive Order banning all refugees as well as individuals and families from certain Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East from entering the United States, House Members, including Reps. Don Beyer (VA), Chair of the Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Andre Carson (D-IN), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the Freedom of Religion Act today to prohibit barring immigrants, refugees, and international visitors from entry on the basis of religion. They were joined by Gold Star Father Khizr Khan and supporting religious and civil liberties organizations.

“I spent hours at Dulles Airport helping grieving families reconnect with their loved ones detained or deported by President Trump’s Muslim ban,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Religious freedom is a defining value of the United States, guaranteed by the Founding Fathers in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Today’s legislation won’t erase the pain from President Trump’s ban, but it will ensure that this sort of immoral action never happens again and show the world that America still honors its founding principles.”

“Protecting religious freedom is the very foundation of what our nation was built on,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley. “I strongly believe we have a responsibility, now more than ever, to stand up for individuals of all religions against hatred and bigotry. America need to be a welcoming, safe haven for all and I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of legislation that keeps true to our values."

“Freedom of religion is at the core of American’s founding—the first colonists came here to flee persecution and practice their religious beliefs in peace, and many of today’s refugees come for the same reason,” Congresswoman Norton said.  “America’s example as a beacon of light for the rest of the world is quickly fading due to the Muslim ban in the President’s recent executive order.  At a time when we need strong partnerships with our Muslim allies abroad, this executive order undermines American security and sends a chilling signal to Muslim American citizens here at home.”

“As a proud Jew and the daughter of immigrants, I will never forget where my family came from or the horrors that members of my community have experienced,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “That is why President Trump’s appalling Muslim ban is so personal to me. His unconstitutional Order ignores these warnings from history, and undermines our values as a nation. Bigotry does not make America great; it undermines our strength as a country by giving in to fearmongering, hate, and division. Welcoming people of all faiths is the best way to counter hatred and extremism. Our diversity makes us strong, and our diversity makes us safe. I am very proud to join Rep. Beyer in reintroducing this legislation.”

“The Freedom of Religion Act reaffirms our country's fundamental tenets: our Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and our values of tolerance and pluralism. Discriminating based on religion, as President Donald Trump's executive order has done, divides our communities and makes our country more isolated in the world,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “The Freedom of Religion Act would end the shameful abuses of President Trump's executive order and make it unequivocally clear that the United States will never stand for religious discrimination.”

“Our country is built on religious tolerance and the freedom to worship,” said Rep. Keith Ellison. “When President Trump blocks Muslim immigration, he’s not just being prejudiced – he’s being un-American. This bill will uphold our core values by guaranteeing that religion isn’t used to decide who can enter the country. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty reads: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about a person’s faith.”

“To turn our back on immigrants betrays our nation's core values,” said Rep. André Carson.  “President Trump’s recent Executive Order sends a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States is no longer a beacon of freedom. This critical legislation ensures that the United States will always be a country that welcomes people of all races, ethnicities, and religions.”

“President Trump’s barbaric executive order banning immigrants from certain Muslim majority countries is un-American, and unconstitutional,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “We can’t let this President force his authoritarian agenda on us. I’m proud to co-introduce Freedom of Religion Act. This is not just an act of resistance against xenophobic policies, but a clear signal to President Trump that we will not let him destroy our constitution and our American values.”

Additionally, 55 more House Members support the Freedom of Religion Act as original co-sponsors: Reps. John Conyers, Zoe Lofgren, Ron Kind, Jim McGovern, Gerry Connolly, Dan Kildee, Marcy Kaptur, Danny K. Davis, Katherine Clark, Nydia Velazquez, Debbie Dingell, John Lewis, Seth Moulton, Rick Larsen, Eddie Bernice Johnson, David Price, Joe Courtney, Eric Swalwell, John Yarmuth, Donald Payne Jr., Bill Keating, Louise Slaughter, Denny Heck, Peter Welch, Donald Norcross, Darren Soto, Paul Tonko, Steve Cohen, Rosa DeLauro, John Sarbanes, Kathleen Rice, Peter DeFazio, Mark Pocan, Robert Brady, Jackie Speier, Sean Patrick Maloney, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Himes, Grace Napolitano, Jose Serrano, Mike Quigley, Matt Cartwright, John Delaney, Carol Shea-Porter, Bobby Rush, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Mike Doyle, Albio Sires, G.K. Butterfield, Anna Eshoo, Bill Pascrell, Suzanne Bonamici, Jerrold Nadler, Joe Kennedy, and Elijah Cummings.

Khizr Khan joined to offer his support for the Freedom of Religion Act. Khan immigrated to the United States from the United Arab Emirates with his wife Ghazala. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Khizr Khan said, “The only way to deal with this clown show that is taking place in the White House, which violates the basic decency of America, is through challenges from Congress. The malice of Donald Trump is evident: he told Rudy Giuliani to devise an illegal, unethical, un-American scheme that will fulfill his un-American, unpatriotic campaign promise. This way of governing is alienating Muslims in the United States and around the world.”

The American Civil Liberties Union was also on hand to endorse the bill.

“The President's hostile views against Muslims are well documented,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU senior legislative counsel.  “He has also stated a clear preference for Christian refugees over Muslim refugees.  Favoring one religion over another is quintessential religious discrimination, which strikes at the heart of the first amendment establishment clause.  Our constitution will not permit it.  And neither will the ACLU.”

Arsalan Suleman, former Acting U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at the U.S. Department of State under President Obama, said, “I have served our country as a diplomat, working to protect our national security by forging productive relationships and working to protect human rights, including religious freedom, around the globe. I know through experience that how we protect human rights and religious freedom at home determines how well we can promote them abroad, and thus how well we can protect our own security. That is why President Trump’s travel bans are so problematic. By targeting Muslims for these travel bans, President Trump has betrayed American values and has made America less safe.”

“A religious test for refugees is unlawful, discriminatory and flies in the face of American values,” said Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s executive director. “President Trump and his administration are writing policy based on hate and bigotry that is deliberately blind to the humanitarian crisis the world is facing. This bill is timely and necessary to ensure that those who most urgently need our help are not shut out of the U.S.”

The Unitarian Universalist Association, NETWORK Advocates for Catholic Social Justice, BEND THE ARC Jewish Action, Interfaith Alliance, Just Foreign Policy, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, American Civil Liberties Union, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Council on American-Islamic Relations, American Humanist Association, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, J Street, the Union of Reform Judaism, Islamic Relief USA, National Immigration Law Center, Muslim Advocates, Amnesty International USA, Lutheran Services in America, and the National Council of Jewish Women all back the measure.

Text of the bill can be found here.