July 21, 2020
I write on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge your support for H.R. 2214, the National Origin Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (NO BAN Act), and H.R. 5581, the Access to Counsel Act. The full House is scheduled to take up these bills on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, as House Amendments to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2486.
The NO BAN Act would end the ongoing harms caused by a series of executive actions negatively impacting refugees and immigrants and their families and would put into place vital protections to prevent future discriminatory bans. On January 27, 2017, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13769, which temporarily banned the entry of all refugees and the entry of foreign nationals from several Muslim-majority countries. He subsequently implemented related EO 13780, EO 13815, and Presidential Proclamation (PP) 9645. He also later signed PP 9822 that limited access to asylum protection in a manner contrary to the Refugee Act of 1980. Most recently, on January 31, 2020, he issued Presidential Proclamation 9983 that restricts access to U.S. immigrant visas for citizens of six more countries. For individuals being considered for admission to the United States and are in secondary or deferred inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Access to Counsel Act would provide them with crucial access to legal counsel, as well as access to family and close associates. This strengthens due process for these individuals, many of whom are asylum seekers.
While Catholic social teaching recognizes the duty and responsibility of governments to protect their citizens by properly controlling borders, it also recognizes the government’s obligation to protect and provide strong due process for vulnerable groups and individuals, particularly refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable children and families. The NO BAN Act would vacate 6 past executive actions that restricted access to lawful migration while not strengthening protection for U.S. citizens, and the Access to Counsel Act would strengthen at risk migrants’ access to due process while not undermining U.S. security or public safety.
USCCB/COM has opposed all six of the executive actions that will be vacated by the NO BAN Act. These actions undermine our longstanding commitment to and implementation of refugee and asylum protection. Moreover, we are deeply troubled over the Administration implementing immigration and refugee policies that are based on religious discrimination. We filed two amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court during the last two years raising concerns about how the Administration’s policies threaten religious liberty. With support of the Access to Counsel Act, USCCB/COM continues its long-time support of access to counsel for asylum seekers and immigrants.
Thank you for your attention to these urgent issues, and we ask that you support the two measures when they are brought before the full House of Representatives.
Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration