Feb. 13 (UPI) — The House judiciary committee voted Wednesday to end President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel by people from certain countries.
The Democrat-controlled panel voted 22-10 to pass the so-called No Ban Act to repeal Trump’s travel ban, which limits travel from people of six countries the administration said it deemed as security risks. Trump signed the current version of the executive order in March 2017 and announced an expansion of the ban to include an additional six countries last month.
The 2017 order banned people from Libya and Yemen from receiving tourist or business visas, travel for some Venezuelan government officials, all entry from people from Iran except for those traveling under student or exchange visitor visas, Somalians traveling under immigrant visas, and travel by all people from North Korea or Syria.
The expansion banned people from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria from receiving immigrant visas and suspended the visa lottery for people from Sudan and Tanzania.
Critics of the travel ban, including Democratic lawmakers, have accused the ban of targeting Muslim-majority countries. Advocacy group Amnesty International said it is “rooted in hate, white supremacy and racism.”
Republicans say the ban protects Americans from terrorism.
“This has nothing to do with religion. This has to do with securing our country,” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said during Wednesday’s markup. “If it really was, as you call it, a Muslim ban, why wouldn’t Indonesia be on this ban? I mean, they have a lot of Muslims. This is just inaccurate. You are just spreading this falsity.”
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., pointed to Trump’s own comments in 2016 when he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“How do we know? We know because the president, who is occasionally honest, told us so!” Nadler said.
The bill now heads to the House floor for a full chamber vote, but it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-led Senate.