Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) introduced a “Neighbors Not Enemies Act” Thursday to fully repeal the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, which President Donald Trump used as a basis for his travel ban.
The 1798 law was one of four bills comprising the “Alien and Sedition Acts” and is the only of the four that has not expired or been repealed. The law grants the president authority in determining how foreign nationals from specific countries should be “apprehended, restrained, secured and removed.”
According to Omar’s office, the law “dangerously permits the president extreme executive powers to target an entire group of foreign nationals.”
“This outdated and xenophobic law is an offense to our values as a nation, which should stand as a refuge for those fleeing violence and persecution,” Omar said in a statement. “It is a perfect example of outdated immigration laws that are being exploited and abused by this administration.”
President Trump issued his first travel ban order in January 2017 and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a third version of the ban in June 2018.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the president to defend the national security of the United States,” Trump said after the ruling. “In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country.”
He confirmed earlier this month that his administration is preparing to expand the travel ban, but did not specify which countries will be added to the list.
“As the President seeks to expand the Muslim Ban, we must close policy loopholes that he can exploit to cause harm to our neighbors, our country and the values that we hold dear,” Omar continued. “We must learn from historical mistakes built on fear of the other and embrace a fair and just immigration system by repealing the Alien Enemies Act.”
Omar is a vocal critic of the president’s travel ban, which she refers to as the “Muslim ban,” and was an original co-sponsor of the April 2019 “No Ban Act.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement this week that the House will soon take a vote on the bill in order to “limit the president’s ability to impose such biased and bigoted restrictions.”
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