WASHINGTON, D.C.: US President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily halting refugee arrivals and blocking immigrants from seven majority Muslim nations marked perhaps the most contentious moment of his provocative new tenure.
The declaration triggered an international uproar as more than 100 immigrants, refugees, and even legal permanent US residents were ensnared in a web of detention in several airports.
Is it legal?
“This is not – I repeat, not – a ban on Muslims,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Tuesday, adding that religious liberty is a “fundamental treasured value.”
The order indeed does not explicitly ban Muslims, something Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, noted in defense of the order.
“The law favors Trump on the constitutionality,” he told MSNBC.
But round one of the constitutional fight nonetheless has gone to the order’s opponents.
Following immediate legal challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union, judges barred any deportations of legal refugees already in the country, including at airports, or of immigrants with legal visas from the seven nations listed in the order.
Michael Price, counsel of the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that many of the arguments about a president’s plenary power over immigration are “misplaced.”
He said there are two related questions – whether the president has statutory authority and whether he has constitutional authority – and that Trump is wrong on both counts.
Congress has repeatedly enacted laws to prevent the president from excluding people based on ideology, he said, and Section 212 of the current immigration law code places clear prohibitions excluding immigrants based on their beliefs.