Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Reality Check: Right or Wrong, The President Could Ban Muslims from Entering U.S.

Author: Ben Swann
Created: 11 December, 2015
Updated: 18 October, 2022
3 min read

Donald Trump has been taking a lot of heat over his comments about banning Muslim immigrants but turns out he is right about the legal authority to do so. On the other hand, are other presidential candidates actually hypocritical on the issue? Reality Check!

There’s been so much debate over Donald Trump’s statement that the U.S. should ban all Muslims attempting to enter the country. We are going to look at one major question: is it lawful?

This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

That’s a statement from Trump explaining his plan to prevent terror attacks on U.S. soil—ban all Muslims from entering the country. This plan has been met with a lot of support from some, and condemned by others.

“Do you know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN.

“We do not discriminate on people based on religion…,” Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson recently stated. “…never want to do that… have to be responsible… want to be Americans.”

What Carson said there about not discriminating against people’s religion being part of the constitution, well, that is true for U.S. citizens. But that’s not what Trump said. He is talking about immigrants or people visiting from other countries. So citing freedom of religion doesn’t apply here.

Still, the White House spokesman says this statement disqualifies Trump from the presidency.

“What Donald Trump said yesterday, disqualifies him from serving as president,” said Josh Earnest, press secretary for the White House.

But are those commentators and so called legal experts right? No, they’re not.

Reality check here: A President Trump would have the power to ban certain people from entering the country.

Under U.S. Code, the president does have the statutory authority to keep anyone out of the country, for any reason he thinks best. Per 8 USC §1182:

“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.”

Yes, the president has the authority to do exactly what Trump is describing. And by the way, this kind of thing has happened before.

In the late 1800s, Congress passed legislation broadly aimed at halting the immigration of Chinese laborers. Those were not fully repealed until 1943. Quotas limiting immigration based on race and national origin were also enacted in the early 1900s. Racial quotas were repealed in 1952, and those limiting people based on national origin were eliminated in 1965.

So what you need to know is that when so many people are arguing about what a president legally can do, they are missing the point about what a president should do.

Should we ban an entire group of people from entering the country based on their religious views?

That is a debate a lot of people are having. But let’s consider this: remember that soundbite from Senator Graham calling Trump this:

“He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”

You want a reality check? Senator Graham acts like he wants to stand up for Muslim immigrants coming to the United States. And yet, he has advocated for every military and drone bombing of Muslim people living in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and called for it to happen in Iran as well—policies that have ended hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives.

So a question for these enraged Republican candidates who want to make sure that we respect Muslims coming to the United States: are Muslim lives only valuable when they are on U.S. soil?

Editor's note: This segment of Ben Swann's "Reality Check" was originally shared on Truth in Media on December 10, 2015, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

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