Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's Immigration Executive Order Faces 1st Amendment Challenges

As reported by the Washington Post, yesterday President Trump signed an Executive Order (full text) suspending for 90 days immigrant and non-immigrant entry into the U.S. of aliens from seven Muslim-majority countries-- Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. (It should be noted that the countries to which the Executive Order is applicable is discoverable only by elaborate cross references in Sec. 3(c) of the Order that ultimately lead to this list developed last year by the Department of Homeland Security under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of travelers not eligible to participate in the visa waiver program). The Executive Order does not apply to those entering under various diplomatic visas.

The Executive Order also suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days, and of Syrian refugees for an indefinite period.  It provides that when refugee admissions are resumed:
the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.
Following up on this provision, Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that priority will be given to persecuted Christians in the Middle East, particularly Syria. The Legal Director of the ACLU in a post earlier today argued that the Executive Order's targeting of Muslims and favoring of Christians violates the Establishment Clause. Meanwhile CAIR announced that it will be holding a news conference Monday on a lawsuit that it will file in federal district court in Virginia to "challenge the constitutionality of the order because its apparent purpose and underlying motive is to ban people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States."