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The Professors Weigh In On Immigration Ban

On Jan. 27, President Trump issued an executive order placing a temporary 90-day travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries and capping the amount of refugees that the United States receive in 2017.

The announcement of the executive order spurred questions from both the public and those in power. Is this executive order constitutional? Is it legal? Is it necessary?

While one’s favorite news channel may provide sufficient reasoning for or against the ban, UNews spoke with the experts on the ins and outs of government activity to clear up the confusion surrounding this controversial order.

Critics are claiming the order is a religious test, and therefore violates the constitution. Adjunct Professor of American Government Dan Stroud does not believe that this is a strong argument.

“With 40 or so other largely Muslim countries not being included in the ban, the religious test is a harder case to make… [the executive order] will probably stand up in favor of the administration as a security and not religious action,” said Stroud.

Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Greg Vonnahme agrees that the decision to select specific countries will stand in court under the reasoning that the president has intelligence and security information the courts are not privy to. He does, however, take issue with one aspect of the executive order.

“The religious preference for Christian immigrants is the most legally vulnerable on statutory and constitutional grounds. That part of the executive order I anticipate will be overturned by the federal courts,” Vonnahme said.

Stroud, on the other hand, finds the greatest constitutional issue in the balance of power. He explains that presidential power has increased recently, beginning with the Bush Administration’s use of executive orders. He points out that President Obama expanded this use, even after campaigning against that form of action. Now, President Trump, who campaigned to repeal Obama’s executive orders, has taken it another step further by writing additional orders that increase his administration’s power.

“Many of the executive orders that President Trump is exacting, really should include some Congressional oversight. An issue that is alarming in this instance pertains to the fact that high-ranking members of his cabinet, as well as high-ranking members of Congress, were left completely in the dark on what was coming,” said Stroud. “Had more care been taken to consult others both in and out of the administration’s inner circle, many of the issues that occurred over the weekend, including unintended revocation of green cards, could have been avoided.”

Associate Dean for International Programs and Professor of Law Dean Thomas believes that the executive order is unjustified with insufficient evidence proving the executive order will reduce the risk of terrorism; which the White House claims is the primary goal. He is also critical of the order’s impact on students traveling abroad.

“It is creating a great deal of fear and uncertainty for students who are trying to return to their academic programs,” said Thomas. “I am sure there will be legal challenges of various types.”

Thomas’ prediction came true early last weekend, when a federal judge halted the implementation of the executive order Friday evening. Immediately following this decision, the Trump administration released a statement pledging to appeal the decision.

In addition to this statement, President Trump called into question the legitimacy of the federal judge – who was appointed in 2003 by President Bush – when he tweeted “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

All three professors acknowledge their uncertainty in what ways or how the executive order will be tweaked, as well as to what extent.

For now, it seems uncertainty is the new standard regarding the legality of the executive order. Only hours before the ruling in Washington, a federal judge in Maine ruled in favor of Trump’s order. These contradictory decisions at the federal level may lead to a ruling by the Supreme Court.

“None of us have all the answers, and while a president must lead, good and thorough counsel is never a bad thing,” Stroud said.

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