capitol dome section with flagWritten by Don Byrd

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate in apparent response to campaign statements from then-candidate Donald Trump indicating he would seek to deny Muslims entry to the United States, create a federal registry of Muslims, or otherwise add a religious test to our immigration procedures. The Protect American Families Act of 2017 (S.54), introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), prohibits the federal government from creating, or Congress from funding, any law enforcement or national security program that would have the effect of requiring people to “register or check in on the basis of religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, nationality, or citizenship.”

A press release from Senator Booker’s office includes his statement:

“Religious freedom and freedom from discrimination are fundamental rights central to the very idea of being an American,” Sen. Booker said. “Forcing people to sign up for a registry based on their religion, race, or national origin does nothing to keep America secure. It does, however, undermine the freedom of religion guaranteed by our Constitution and promote the false notion that people of certain faiths and nationalities are inherently suspect. Our legislation would block Donald Trump and subsequent administrations from infringing on religious liberty by creating an immigration-related religious registry. Throughout our history, the United States has been a beacon of hope for those seeking religious freedom, and has taken significant steps forward to advance civil and human rights. We must ensure this legacy lasts forever into the future.”

You can read the Protect American Families Act of 2017 here.

Last year, a bill introduced in the House (The Freedom of Religion Act), and supported by several religious liberty advocates including the Baptist Joint Committee, would have prohibited the government from discriminating on the basis of religion in determining who is allowed to enter the United States. That bill was referred to committee but no action was taken.