Experts: Trump’s Muslim Entry Ban Idea ‘Ridiculous,’ ‘Unconstitutional’
Experts weighed in on Donald Trump’s questionable ban of all Muslim immigration, dismissing the idea and calling it completely unconstitutional.
“Oh, for the love of God,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University. “This would not only violate international law, but do so by embracing open discrimination against one religion. It would make the United States a virtual pariah among nations.’’
“That’s blatantly unconstitutional if it excludes U.S. citizens because they are Muslims. It’s ridiculous,” said Richard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan. He cited the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the First Amendment’s doctrine of freedom of religion.
“We have treaties, all sorts of relationships with other countries,’’ said Palma Yanni, a D.C. immigration lawyer and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “I’m sure it would violate innumerable treaties if we suddenly started banning citizens of NATO countries, of Southeast Asian countries.’’
The Washington Post reports:
The closest parallel in American history to what Trump is proposing appears to be the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which “effectively halted Chinese immigration for ten years,’’ according to a Harvard University Library Open Collections Program called Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930.
The first major anti-immigration statute, it was not fully overturned until Congress passed a new immigration law in 1965, and it was never ruled on by the Supreme Court.
But the experts said that Trump’s proposal would go much further because it targets religion, not a nationality or region. “A nation could argue that national security provides a rationale for barring immigrants from particular countries engaged in civil wars,” Turley said. “But those rationales fall by the wayside when you are using an arbitrary criteria like religion.”
Beyond the legal problems, Trump’s plan would also likely be doomed by practical factors, such as the difficulty and intrusiveness of questioning potential immigrants based on factors such as their surname. And religion “is not on any passport that I’ve ever seen,’’ said Yanni, who labeled the plan “impossible.”
Photo credit: Salon.