Before I get to the heart of my newsletter, let me start with a quick legal analysis. Late yesterday, President Trump announced that he would be signing an executive order temporarily suspending immigration:
Immediately after the tweet, I received a number of messages from folks asking whether he had the legal authority to keep his promise. The response is twofold. First, the tweet isn’t the order. Later reporting indicated that the ban may be less than total and exempt a number of classes of immigrants who are deemed “essential workers.” I’ll wait on the order to make a definitive analysis.
Second, however, the president’s authority to restrict immigrant entry is quite broad and was recently reaffirmed by the Supreme Court. While it seems like ancient history, remember the travel ban litigation? In 2018 the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s executive order restricting entry from a number of countries that were deemed to have inadequate vetting processes to screen for terrorists or other dangerous visitors and immigrants. Most (but not all) of the countries on the list had majority-Muslim populations.
The Trump administration relied on a statute that is almost breathtaking in the discretion it grants the president. Here’s the relevant text: