A bill to bar Port Authority of New York and New Jersey employees from enforcing President Trump’s travel ban for six majority-Muslim countries cleared the New Jersey Senate by a 22-14 vote Thursday.
The legislation would prohibit the bi-state agency — which runs Newark, JFK and LaGuardia airports — from using its resources to enforce a March 6 executive order Trump signed and from assisting federal agents trying to block passengers from entering.
Citing national security concerns, Trump attempted to limit entrance to the United States for passengers from Iran, Lybia, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Sudan, all of them majority-Muslim countries. But the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday declined to reinstate the travel ban after a lower-court judge blocked it from taking effect.
“The courts have rightly halted the ban, but the case is not yet over,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a lead sponsor along with Sen. Bob Gordon (both D-Bergen). “We cannot allow Port Authority resources to be used at any time to enforce President Trump’s ill-advised, unconstitutional and discriminatory policy.”
For a bill regulating the Port Authority to become law, it would need Gov. Chris Christie’s signature and an identical piece of legislation to get enacted in New York. That state’s version of the bill — sponsored by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) — is in committee but has not been put on the floor calendar.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey bill won final passage Thursday and was sent to Christie’s desk. It passed the state Assembly 48-25 with two abstentions in March on a party-line vote with no Republican support.
“We cannot in good conscience permit the Port Authority to in any way participate in a policy that discriminates against refugees or anyone else based upon their religion or their nation of origin,” Gordon said in a statement.
Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote for the 4th Circuit that Trump’s order appeared to be an “executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the administration would seek review at the Supreme Court.