Two immigration-related bills — H.R. 1333, the NO BAN Act and H.R. 1573, the Access to Counsel Act — are headed to the Senate after House Democrats passed both bills last week.
Rather than address any element of the ongoing Biden border crisis, House Democrats spent their time moving legislation that only worsens the already grave situation at our southern border. The NO BAN Act jeopardizes our national security and public health, while the Access to Counsel Act further overwhelms our immigration courts and creates unnecessary burdens to already strained immigration authorities. Passage of both bills reveal how detached House Democrats are from properly addressing the nation’s most pressing immigration matters.
Terror threats — including those at the southern border — remain of significant concern to the United States and the NO BAN Act jeopardizes the nation’s security. The NO Ban Act would prevent any sitting president from barring the entry of foreign nationals from countries who support or harbor terrorists or who withhold critical information regarding individuals seeking to enter the U.S.
Beginning in 2017, President Trump issued a series of travel bans on countries that met these criteria, and while the bans faced fierce opposition from open borders advocates, the Supreme Court eventually upheld the orders making it clear that Congress has given the president clear, unambiguous authority to suspend entry to any alien or class of aliens deemed detrimental to the interests of the United States.
The series of bans helped protect our nation by limiting the entry of individuals from hostile and/or terror-prone nations, including Syria and Iraq, where as many as 25,000 jihadist fighters remain located.
Not having this order in place could have comprised national security. Terror groups continue to thrive in the Middle East, especially as the U.S. has gradually withdrawn from the region in recent years. And, as September 11, 2001 showed us, it only takes a handful of harmful actors to inflict catastrophic damage to a nation.
Recently, foreign nationals from the nation’s terror watch list exploited the border crisis by entering the southern border illegally. And yet, this bill would make it easier for these types of individuals to enter the country by stripping presidents, current and future, of the authority to bar entry of foreign nationals based on legitimate security concerns.
And, let’s not forget — without this order, the former president would have been unable to act quickly to restrict travel from Europe and China in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have endangered the public health of millions of Americans.
The passage of the second bill — the Access to Counsel Act — is no better and negatively affects conditions for many at the southern border amid an unprecedented border crisis.
The legislation guarantees that any migrant selected for secondary inspection at a U.S. port of entry has an opportunity to retain a lawyer at the American taxpayers’ expense. This means that travel at the southern border would be slowed down significantly and add an unnecessary and burdensome layer to removing people who have no legitimate claim to enter. The legislation reduces the operational effectiveness of immigration authorities like Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Additionally, this bill would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. Money will directly enter the wallets of open-borders immigration lawyers, their firms and their advocacy organizations. Not a single dime of this money will address the needs of our porous southern border or the needs of detention facilities that remain at unacceptable conditions during a pandemic.
Most importantly, offering a publicly funded lawyer to large numbers of migrants would contribute to the already one million-case backlog of immigration court cases that continues to grow daily with no end in sight. The immigration courts will become so backlogged that virtually anyone with a specious, or even fraudulent claim to enter or remain in the U.S. will be able to stay.
Both H.R. 1333, the NO BAN Act and H.R. 1573, the Access to Counsel Act, do nothing to address the immediate immigration needs of the country. These bills jeopardize our nation’s national security, place unnecessary burdens on immigration authorities and create logistical challenges that will only be made more difficult to resolve.
While both bills are likely dead on arrival in the Senate, these votes reveal that House Democrats are not interested in addressing the Biden border crisis and only seek to exacerbate it for political gain.
Matthew Tragesser is press secretary at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington D.C.