Today, U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., who represents the 8th District of Northern Virginia that includes Falls Church, was joined at a press conference by fellow congressmen and leaders of faith and interest groups to announce the introduction of a bill that would make it illegal for the U.S. to bar any immigrant, refugee, or traveler to the U.S. on the basis of religion.
The bill is called the Freedom of Religion Act. At the press conference at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon, Beyer said that while the policy is already the practice for the U.S. government, “It is clear from current proposals to incorporate discrimination into U.S. immigration policy that we must codify this fundamental American value. Discrimination on the basis of religion would undermine the very principle of religious liberty upon which our nation was founded.”
Beyer stated that the act “is a rallying cry to remind us all that America is a country that welcomes everyone from all walks of life and all faiths. For centuries, American shores have represented hope and freedom from religious oppression. The Constitution bans religious litmus tests for Americans who seek to hold higher office. And the opening phrase of the Bill of Rights bans both the establishment of a national religion and limitations on the free exercise of religion.”
He added, “Quite simply, a religious ban on immigration or travel would betray the promise of freedom that gave birth to our country, and it would hurt our national interests. At a time when we must have strong global relationships, it would hurt our economy, our standing in the world, and our diplomatic relations.”
The bill is co-sponsored by 75 Members of Congress, and has the backing of over 100 outside organizations.