Earlier today, the Huffington Post went after Donald Trump for wanting to suspend immigration by Muslims. Reporters Jennifer Bendery and Laura Barron-Lopez think that Trump’s vow is somehow inconsistent with Republicans’ criticisms of President Obama for acting unconstitutionally, at times, via executive order:
House Republicans were outraged when President Barack Obama acted without their approval — in fact, despite their explicit opposition — on immigration. Now they have to contend with their own party’s presumptive nominee promising to do the same thing.
No. Obama violated his constitutional duty by refusing to enforce the immigration laws and issuing orders that were contrary to federal law. That has nothing to do with what Trump is proposing.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed again Monday to indefinitely ban Muslims from entering the U.S. after a deadly mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, carried out by an American-born man who authorities say expressed loyalty to Islamic extremists. For the first time, Trump argued that he would have the authority to impose a sweeping ban like that with or without Congressional approval.
Trump is right. As president, he would have that power.
“The immigration laws of the United States give the president powers to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons,” he said at a Monday event. “I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”
Trump’s proposal has put GOP lawmakers in a sticky spot: They have spent years opposing Obama’s executive actions on immigration and even joined a lawsuit to stop him, based on the argument that he was overstepping his constitutional authority. So what do they do with a presumptive nominee who seems as eager to bypass them as they say Obama is?
The reporters interviewed several Republicans who said they hoped Trump wouldn’t issue such an order. Paul Ryan tried to give them a hint:
The top House Republican, Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), has previously spoken out against Trump’s attacks on Muslims. But on Tuesday, he refused to say if his party’s presidential candidate would have the authority to enact such a ban without congressional approval. He told reporters to look it up themselves.
“That’s a question about immigration law,” Ryan said during a press briefing. “You can go into the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act to determine whether or not the president has that kind of discretion.”
Unfortunately, the HuffPo reporters didn’t follow Ryan’s advice. If they had, they would have learned that as president, Trump would have the authority he claims:
Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. §1182(f)
(f) Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
Instead of looking up the law, HuffPo blithely asserted that suspending immigration by Muslims would be unconstitutional:
(For the record: Legal experts have said Trump’s proposal for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. would be unconstitutional.)
Wrong again. The United States Supreme Court wrote in United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537 (1950):
At the outset we wish to point out that an alien who seeks admission to this country may not do so under any claim of right. Admission of aliens to the United States is a privilege granted by the sovereign United States Government. Such privilege is granted to an alien only upon such terms as the United States shall prescribe. …
Thus the decision to admit or to exclude an alien may be lawfully placed with the President, who may in turn delegate the carrying out of this function to a responsible executive officer of the sovereign, such as the Attorney General. The action of the executive officer under such authority is final and conclusive. Whatever the rule may be concerning deportation of persons who have gained entry into the United States, it is not within the province of any court, unless expressly authorized by law, to review the determination of the political branch of the Government to exclude a given alien.
The United States can admit or not admit any alien into this country, for any reason whatsoever or for no reason. There is no constitutional right for an alien to enter the United States.
So: Trump 1, HuffPo 0. HuffPo should run a correction, and it may want to find some new legal experts, too.