Rep. Ilhan Omar Introduces Neighbors Not Enemies Act

January 30, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced the Neighbors Not Enemies Act—which fully repeals the Alien Enemies Act of 1798. The 1798 laws known collectively as the “Alien and Sedition Acts” were a set of four bills targeting immigrants under the guise of war. While three of the acts have since expired or been repealed, the Alien Enemies Act (AEA) remains in effect to this day.

“This outdated and xenophobic law is an offense to our values as a nation, which should stand as a refuge for those fleeing violence and persecution,” Rep. Omar said. “It is a perfect example of outdated immigration laws that are being exploited and abused by this Administration. As the President seeks to expand the Muslim Ban, we must close policy loopholes that he can exploit to cause harm to our neighbors, our country and the values that we hold dear. We must learn from historical mistakes built on fear of the other and embrace a fair and just immigration system by repealing the Alien Enemies Act.”

The AEA allows the U.S. president to determine how and if all foreign nationals from a specific country should be “apprehended, restrained, secured and removed.” The Act was employed during World War II to detain and subsequently deport German, Japanese, and Italian immigrants. More recently, during the 2016 election President Trump used the 1798 law as a justification for the Muslim Ban. The AEA dangerously permits the president extreme executive powers to target an entire group of foreign nationals.

The bill has been endorsed by The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), National Iranian American Council Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Minnesota Peace Project, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Defending Rights & Dissent, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Church World Service, UndocuBlack Network, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE), International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), The Sikh Coalition, National Immigration Law Center, Project South, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Shoulder to Shoulder, Veterans for Peace chapter 27, Coalition on Human Needs, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC).