After Trump announces travel ban, Queens’ representatives introduce bills to stop it

Photo by Dean Moses

Updated Jan. 30, 5:39 p.m.

Two elected officials from Queens have introduced legislation designed to make it harder for President Donald Trump to enforce his most recent executive order.

On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump announced that travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries would be banned from entering the United States for 90 days. His executive order also bans refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Soon after he announced the order, hundreds of people gathered at JFK airport, where Muslim travelers were detained, to protest. The protests spread to airports across the country on Sunday, and lawyers began to offer their services to those affected by the ban, many of whom had green cards and visas.

Now, two Queens lawmakers have introduced legislation to stop resources and funds from enforcing the order.

State Senator Michael Gianaris on Saturday said his legislation would prohibit the Port Authority, which administers New York’s airports, from utilizing any of its resources to enforce the order. Those resources include supporting personnel, the use of airport facilities under its control, which include six in New York and New Jersey, or the use of electricity and climate control in areas of the airport being used for the detentions.

“President Trump’s executive order is as un-American as it gets and it falls upon each of us to take any measures at our disposal to resist by any legal means,” said Gianaris, whose parents came to the U.S. from Greece. “The state of New York should not spend one penny in support of this unconstitutional federal effort and I will fight to make sure we don’t.”

State Senator James Sanders said he would co-sponsor Gianaris’ legislation and added that the country needs to take a “unified stand” against the ban, which he thinks will be deemed unconstitutional.

“We must remember that an injury to one is an injury to all,” he said in a statement. “Senator Gianaris’ legislation is one of many Resistance Agenda bills being put forth by the State Senate’s Democratic Conference which are necessary to prohibit blanket discrimination against Muslims, and protect those decent, hardworking immigrants who make up many of the communities here in New York.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng on Sunday announced that she will introduce the No Funds for Unconstitutional Executive Orders Act, which would prohibit any funds made available by Congress from being used to enforce the president’s refugee ban.

A federal judge in New York on Saturday granted an emergency stay, which temporarily halted the deportation of those detained at airports due to the executive order, but the stay is temporary.

“The decision by a federal judge to temporarily block this unconstitutional and un-American executive order was a great victory,” Meng said. “But we must make sure that it is overturned for good, and this legislation would make that happen. I urge all my colleagues to support this bill.”

Meng sent a letter to her colleagues in the House to ask for their support in implementing the act and cited the Bill of Rights, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” as the reason for the act.

She also cited the Supreme Court ruling in Larson v. Valente, where the court stated that “the clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.”

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