Trump cites outdated law from 1952 that allows suspension of entry to the U.S. for any reason as the basis of his executive order barring Muslims from the Middle East
President Trump is, in effect, the most uneducated politician to enter the White House when it comes to what he can or cannot do according to federal laws. After all, his only foray into politics has been unsuccessful campaigns in the past. If it weren’t for his extensive team, many critics argue, Trump may not even know what to do with his time.
That’s why his recent executive order that bars Muslims from Middle Eastern countries entry into the United States is technically illegal — because, despite citing a 1952 law that allows the president the ability to disallow visitors from foreign lands for any reason, Trump apparently hopes that everyone will completely forget about a 1965 law that makes discrimination of entry to the United States based on a person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence illegal. It doesn’t state religion as a reason, however.
The question of whether religion is a valid reason to bar someone from entering the U.S. is still up for debate, which may be the tactic Trump’s Republican cabinet is using, but an executive order that doesn’t hold up to constitutional law is the problem at hand. The order specifically states that persons from specific countries are to be scrutinized based on their religion. Obviously a Muslim could just lie and say they were Christian or Jewish, but that is not the problem with the wording. Already Democrats have found holes in the order which violate the portion of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which states he cannot discriminate based on a region.
Republican lawmakers are sure to be working on a bill they think they can get through congress that allows discrimination based on religion as applied to immigrants or visitors, but such bills have been killed throughout the years. Democrats, on the other hand, have managed to continue enforcing constitutional rights for foreigners wishing to live in the United States, but not so much for those who are just visiting.
In December of 2015, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) had managed to convince most of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Immigration to agree that discrimination based on religion was unconstitutional, even when applied to immigrants in a 16-4 vote, where only 4 Republicans voted against (Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions being two of them).
While this is merely symbolic, considering the Senate Judiciary Committee cannot enact any laws, it did set a precedent moving forward as it gave Congress an idea of where the votes were leaning. Today, Leahy is proposing Refugee reform in conjunction with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and House Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), along with the majority of the Democratic party, to rely on distinct screening and background checks for entry into the U.S. rather than characteristics that can marginalize entire groups of people.