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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Jayapal, colleagues propose Freedom of Religion Act in response to travel ban

Pramila Jayapal
Flickr Photo/Joe Mabel (CC BY SA 2.0)/
Pramila Jayapal

Democrats in the U.S. House have introduced a bill to try to prevent immigration restrictions like the ones in effect under President Trump. Trump's executive order temporarily bans immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries and prohibits entry by any new refugees for four months.

New Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is one of the primary sponsors of the House bill. It's called the Freedom of Religion Act. It would prohibit religious-based bans of immigrants, refugees or visitors. Jayapal said Trump's immigration order is based on religion and it is unconstitutional.

Jayapal: "This is a time when we all need to be on the right side of history. We need to stand up against unconstitutional executive orders and pass bills like this that ensure over and over again that we enshrine into immigration law the ability for people to come into this country regardless of what religion they are."

Jayapal said if the bill passes it could take effect immediately, even if the executive orders on immigration have not expired yet. She said it will be hard to find GOP support, which the bill needs in the Republican-led Congress.

Jayapal and more than 100 colleagues have already requested an emergency briefing from Trump Administration officials on the travel ban. Jayapal said the full Congress has not received a comprehensive briefing on Trump’s executive orders.

She and her colleagues, including some GOP representatives, requested a meeting by February 3 with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The letter says they want information on exactly what the administration is telling departments to do.

The White House has said the immigration and refugee program changes are intended to protect the country from extremist attacks.

Paige Browning can be reached at or @paigebpaige_.