President Donald Trump’s decree to temporarily curb the arrival of refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries has been the most controversial moment of his newly inaugurated mandate.
The decision provoked an international scandal, especially after more than 100 immigrants and refugees, including several with permanent residence permits in the United States, were detained at various airports of the country. Some of them were returned to their countries and many others were released in the United States, often with the help of local lawyers, after being detained for hours.
Critics of the presidential decree consider it to be an unconstitutional and even an “anti-American” decision.
Its supporters say it is only a temporary measure similar to the restrictions applied in 2011 by Trump’s predecessor, democrat Barack Obama, to defend national security at a time of maximum international tension triggered by terrorist attacks.
But is it legal?
The first amendment to the US Constitution protects the right to freedom of worship, expression and the press.
Its supporters insist that the executive order aims to protect the nation from foreign terrorists and it does not violate anyone’s right.
This is not, I repeat, a ban on Muslims,
said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, adding that religious freedom is a “core value, a treasure” to care for in the country.
The decree is not explicitly directed against Muslims,
declared Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.
Benjamin Wittes, chief editor of Lawfare, wrote in his blog on national security issues that despite the “malicious” nature of the order because of its potentially negative impact on many innocent lives, it has a legal basis.
But opponents of the presidential decree also have arguments that favor them.
The Union for Civil Liberties, a human rights group that appealed against the expulsion of numerous immigrants, succeeded in allowing judges to prohibit the deportation of refugees who are legally admitted in the country, or immigrants with visas from the seven Muslim majority nations mentioned in the decree.
District Judge Ann Donnelly wrote in one of her rulings that Trump’s provision “violates due process rights and equitable protection guaranteed by the US Constitution” to all people.
Michael Price, an adviser to the national security and freedom program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that many of the arguments to favor the president’s discretionary power to decide on immigration issues “are out of place.”