Friday, June 17, 2016
After Orlando, the presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee seems to have backed President Barack Obama’s premise that a President has lawful authority to establish immigration policies, who goes, who stays and who can be legally admitted or denied admission into this nation.
On June 13th, Donald Trump stated: ““The immigration laws of the United States give the president powers to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons... 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.” He characterized this right as “absolute.”
Of course, he was targeting Muslim nations and vowed to ban immigrées from that part of the world “indefinitely”… until this country comes to grips with controlling “radical Islam’s” assaults against Americans. He even castigated U.S. Muslims for not stopping lone wolves, shifting the blame to what he believes is an ineffective government and obviously (to him anyway) disloyal American Muslims.
Polls suggest that his policies might not garner him the traction he seeks, and he seems to be setting the stage, very contrary to his GOP brethren in Congress, that would justify Barack Obama’s own unilateral executive action on immigration. Remember?
Back on November 20th, the President introduced his executive action to implement an immigration policy to overcome the gridlock of Congressional inaction with these words: “First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.
“Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.
“Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country…
“But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President [George W.] Bush, once put it: ‘They are a part of American life.’
“Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.
“Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.” But those are just Central Americans and Mexicans, albeit in Trump’s words, Mexicans who are “bringing drugs, crime and rapists” across the border. They’re not jihadists hell-bent on bringing down Western civilization. Trump is ready to ban both a religion and those who live in lands, regardless of actual faith, who come from predominantly Muslim lands.
The senior Republican leadership was not amused… at Obama’s executive action… or their own leader’s stated position. The June 14th Huffington Post World decided to find out how alienated the GOP was at their own: “It’s doubtful Republican leaders would ever give [Trump the] authority [to do what he wants], considering they’ve condemned his statements about banning Muslim visitors and immigrants. But 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 Huffington Post asked a number of Republicans on [June 14th] if they thought a President Trump could unilaterally ban Muslims from entering the country. Most of them bristled… ‘The Constitution is the Constitution — it doesn’t work that way,’ Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) said. ‘As a member of Congress, we are going to, whether it be a Republican president or a Democratic president, I think we will vigorously defend the fact that we’re Article I,’ he added, referring to the statute of the Constitution that puts legislative powers in the hands of the House and Senate.
“Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said he didn’t know whether Trump would have that kind of power as president and emphasized that he opposed the president doing something like that. Kinzinger also said it would run counter to what he called one of Republicans’ ‘big hopes: reclaiming Article I of the Constitution… ‘At the end of the day, I hope he respects the role of Congress and assume he will”…
“Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said he hopes Trump won’t actually follow through with the ban, and that he would ‘walk that back by the time it becomes policy time.’ But Brat’s prediction seemed to be based on a hunch rather than any concrete evidence.”
Nevertheless, the law provides support for such presidential powers. “Under Title 8, Section 1182 of the U.S. Code, the president has authority to use a proclamation to suspend the entry of ‘any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States [who] would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,’ for however long he deems necessary. This provision was included in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 [a law aimed at communists, passed over a presidential veto]… In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can deny someone a visa on national security grounds without a specific reason.” Washington Post, June 15th.
But this is hardly an “absolute” presidential foreign policy prerogative; it subject to Congressional reversal and the balance of Constitutional requirements. Muslim citizens also are not subject to this statute or the president’s attempt to assess formal blame to this group. Their religion is protected under the First Amendment. But do you really think Donald Trump cares what his Republican peers think? Really?
I’m Peter Dekom, and I am wondering if the GOP leadership really can continue to support their nominee as he veers farther and farther away from America’s most basic principles… and the positions they have fought over for years.