Today United States Representative Don Beyer (VA-8) introduced a bill aimed at preventing immigrants from being denied entry into the United States because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. The Freedom of Religion Act of 2016 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to include a new SEC. 220. PROHIBITION ON DENYING ADMISSION BECAUSE OF RELIGION that reads "Notwithstanding any other provision of the immigration laws, an alien may not be denied admission to the United States because of the alien's religion or lack of religious beliefs." The bill has about 50 co-sponsors.
It's pretty clear that this legislation is being proposed to counter presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's idiotic call in December for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." This week, the billionaire reality TV star relented and said that were he president, he would allow at least one Muslim into the country: Sadiq Khan, the newly elected Muslim mayor of London. The new Lord Mayor declined the offer. On the other hand, perhaps the Brits could re-consider the proposed ban on Trump visiting their country?
It's worth noting in the bill that atheists are welcome too. The American Humanist Association put out a press release noting that Matthew Bulger, legislative associate of the American Humanist Association, attended a press conference today on Capitol Hill to introduce the legislation. "This bill represents a significant step for the humanist and secular movement," said Bulger. "The specific mention of protection for those without any religion demonstrates that Congress is beginning to expand its understanding of religious freedom to include those who do not identify with any religion."
This proposed legislation honors our country's history: The United States was founded in large measure by immigrants who came to these shores seeking freedom of religion and freedom from religion.