Town hall on Trump’s immigration ban
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Last week, a town hall meeting was held in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby to discuss the implications of Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
The panel was made up of Assistant Professor of Legal Studies Anette Sikka, a lawyer specializing in immigration; Associate Professor of Legal Studies Deborah Anthony, who specializes in civil rights and constitutional law; and Director of International Programs Jonathan GoldbergBelle.
The event served as a primer on what the executive order meant for students and as an informational session on the implications of the order.
It was not primarily about the moral or ethical considerations of the order.
This discussion took place at the same time as oral arguments before a federal appeals court as to whether the stay, or suspension of the order nationwide, issued by a lower federal court would be upheld.
The appeals court decided unanimously on Feb. 9 to uphold the stay, meaning that the immigration policy of the U.S. has reverted to what it was prior to the executive order.
According to the panel, the president has broad discretionary powers over immigration policy, but is constrained by several laws passed by Congress which define the scope of said powers.
For instance, a 1952 law gives the president the ability to “ban certain classes” of people from entering the U.S. who are deemed threats to national security.
However, a 1965 law forbids the president from discriminating on the basis nationality, ethnicity, religion, or sex.
It is therefore unclear as to the whether the courts will hold that the order has violated both of those laws, and concerns of constitutional violations.
The current lawsuit against the executive order was brought by the state of Washington and joined by the state of Minnesota on the basis of “irreparable harm” to the citizens of those states.
The panel explained that in order to bring a lawsuit, a plaintiff must have “standing,” which is a clear harm to that plaintiff.
The states of Washington and Minnesota are claiming they have standing because of harm to their businesses and universities from the prevention of employees and students from entering the country.
The lawsuit was brought before a federal judge who ordered a judicial stay, which is being appealed to a higher federal court, and which might be appealed to the Supreme Court.
The claim that the seven nations listed in Trump’s executive order – Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran – were selected because of a list established by Obama in 2015 was, according to the panel, a false equivalency that misrepresented the policy under the Obama administration.
As they explained, the list was first created as a modification of the visa waiver policy. The U.S. established agreements with several dozen nations to allow citizens of those nations entrance to the US without a visa.
In the case of 2015, citizens of those nations who had visited the listed countries since 2011 would not have the visa requirement waived.
The distinction between the Obama policy and the Trump policy is that the Obama policy did not specifically apply to citizens of the listed nations, but rather to citizens of nations with a visa waiver agreement (such as the U.K. and Canada) who had visited those nations, requiring them to go through the standard process.
On the issue of the constitutionality of the order, the panel mentioned that the order may violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, regarding the establishment of religion, due to a section of the order referencing priority for a religious minority, as well as Trump’s comments regarding a preference for Christian refugees over Muslim refugees.
It may also violate the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process, which mandates that individuals have a legally established process that ensures respect for their rights when threatened with a government action against them.
Further, it may also violate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause, which mandates that all individuals be given equal respect for their rights.
The panel noted that these possible violations are unanswered and will be litigated by the courts.
They also noted that constitutional protections apply to any individual on U.S. soil, but it is unclear as to whether it applies to those engaging with the U.S. government on foreign soil, though this protection is established for U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders).
Students who may be affected by the executive order are encouraged to contact the Office of International Students, headed by Jonathan GoldbergBelle, located in Brookens 483.