January 30, 2017

Feinstein, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Rescind Discriminatory Order on Immigration, Refugees

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced a bill to rescind President Trump’s discriminatory executive order barring immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and suspending the U.S. refugee program.

In addition to Senator Feinstein, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Senator Schumer requested Monday evening that the Senate immediately vote on the bill. The request was denied by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Under Senate rules, if any senator objects, the bill can’t move forward.

Feinstein plans to introduce additional legislation soon to ensure additional congressional oversight of the president’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Feinstein’s remarks as delivered in support of rescinding the executive order follow:

“President Trump’s Muslim ban is unnecessary, it’s unconstitutional and it’s un-American—and it should be repealed immediately.

The executive order prohibits individuals from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the country. It even bars relatives of Americans from visiting.

The order suspends the entire U.S. refugee program. And most egregiously, Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely, unless they’re Christian. These provisions aren’t what America is all about, Mr. President.

First, the order is unnecessary.

Individuals from the seven targeted countries—and 150 other nations—are already thoroughly screened.

Visitors fill out visa applications. They submit photographs that run through biometric databases. Their personal information is reviewed, including names, addresses and dates of birth. They’re interviewed at a United States consulate.

This process can take months to complete and eliminates the need for the travel ban.

In addition, the move to ban refugees has no legitimate national security reason. Because these refugees undergo an even more thorough screening process that can take up to two years to complete.

The vast majority of refugees are women and children who have experienced the absolute worst of humanity.

Let us not forget the heart-wrenching image of the small body of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy, washed up on a beach, dead. I will never forget this small boy, in his short pants, his shoes and his socks, lying on that beach.

To turn away women and children and men in their time of dire need is not what this nation is all about.

Let me make this point: The poor execution of this executive order has resulted in chaos and confusion:

It is unclear whether the Justice Department or Homeland Security had any input. There seems to have been a disagreement about whether it would apply to green card holders.

There was confusion about whether it applies to individuals already in transit or approved for travel. And even airport directors—and I have spoken directly with the director of Los Angeles International, San Francisco International—there was confusion about how it applies and even airport directors were left in the dark about how many people were detained and who they were.

Sarah Yarjani was one Californian caught up in this mess. She’s an Iranian national studying at the California Institute for Human Science in San Diego under a valid student visa. After being detained at LAX airport for 23 hours, she was sent back to Europe—a clear violation of the nationwide stay against the order.

What I’m saying is the court stay was actually violated. This is just one of more than 100 stories from the weekend.

I believe this order is also unconstitutional.

The First Amendment prohibits government from establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The order violates the First Amendment by targeting Muslims and favoring Christians.

The order may also violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which forbids the government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion.

The law bars any discrimination based on national origin in the issuance of a visa. And finally, detaining people at airports may violate their Fourth Amendment rights.

This was an ill-considered overreach, as the courts showed over the weekend, and it should be repealed.

So the bill that 27 of us are introducing rescinds the president’s executive order. The text is simple because the message is simple: We won’t stand for these types of actions.

In conclusion, I’d like to say I’m so proud of the peaceful demonstrations we saw. And I join those who are so passionate about the free exercise of religion and free speech.

These are our values, Mr. President, as a nation, and I’ll be right there with you if anyone tries to violate them. Thank you Mr. President. I yield the floor.”

###