A Senate government funding bill would require details of the Trump administration’s travel ban to be publicly released.
The provision, authored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), was included in legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that would fund the Department of State, foreign operations and related programs for the 2019 fiscal year.
“The Trump Administration has claimed to the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American people that their travel ban is not unfairly targeting Muslims and that waivers are being issued on a case-by-case basis – but they have provided virtually no information to validate that claim,” Van Hollen said in a statement.
He added that his amendment, which was included in the funding bill, “will help ensure that the public – and particularly those American citizens with family and friends in the banned countries – have the information they deserve.”
Under the legislation, the Trump administration would have to hand over a report to Congress that includes the number of new visa applications per month, the number of visas approved and rejected and the number of pending visas, with each list broken down by country and visa category.
Additionally, the report would need to include the number of visa applicants denied and those granted a waiver, also broken down by country. The administration would need to hand over a copy of a report that, under the executive order, is given to Trump that details if the travel ban can be lifted against a specific country.
Under Van Hollen’s amendment, those reports, which would need to be submitted to Congress every 90 days, would then be declassified and publicly released online.
The funding bill still needs to be approved by the full chamber and then merged with a House version of the legislation.
Trump’s travel ban has been plagued by months of court challenges. The policy limits travel into the United States by people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
A Supreme Court ruling in Hawaii v. Trump is considered imminent. The court heard arguments in the case in April, when conservative justices signaled they were inclined to uphold the travel ban.
The challengers – the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, the group’s Imam Dr. Ismail Elshikh and two unnamed individuals – argue that Trump’s policy is a “Muslim ban” that discriminates against immigrants based on their religion.
The government contends that the restrictions are the byproduct of a multiagency, worldwide review of whether countries are cooperating with America’s vetting procedures for travelers and immigrants.