Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily bar alien Muslims from entering the country is legal under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives the president authority to suspend the entry of any and all aliens deemed “detrimental” to U.S. interests.
“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,” the 1952 law states.
Trump calls for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States who are not citizens Monday, on the heels of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation regarding the continuing threat of terrorism. (RELATED: Jihadi & Clyde: San Bernardino Shooters WERE Radicalized)
“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Trump adds in the statement.
His plan sparked an immediate bipartisan backlash from critics. Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham called Trump a “xenophobic, religious bigot,” and House Speaker Paul Ryan called it un-American. Several news outlets characterize the plan as unprecedented, unconstitutional and probably illegal.
The proposal may violate international agreements, but its hard to see how it could be unconstitutional, since it refers to non-U.S. citizens. In addition to the broad authority to suspend entry to aliens deemed “detrimental,” the Immigration and Nationality Act stipulates any immigrant affiliated with a totalitarian party is inadmissible.
“In general – any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the communist or other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign, is inadmissible,” it reads. That clause was added to keep out communists when the law was passed, but could apply to theocratic Muslims. (RELATED: The House-Passed Refugee Bill Ignores These Key Concerns)
Census Bureau data shows immigration from the Middle East is one of the fastest growing categories, which could be spurred by Obama’s plan to admit many more Syrian refugees. The U.S. issued 680,000 green cards to migrants from Muslim-majority countries from 2009 to 2013, which is a population five times that of Washington, D.C., according to data published by the Department of Homeland Security.
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