In April 2016, I wrote an article entitled, “If he is elected to the presidency, Donald Trump will have statutory authority to suspend the entry of all Muslim aliens.”

The article included a successful prediction of Trump’s temporary travel ban. But I failed to foresee that it would be rejected on the basis of his campaign statements, or that using campaign statements that way would put our country on the brink of a constitutional crisis.

History of the travel ban.

In December 2015, Donald Trump made a campaign statement “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

This was several weeks after a report from the Homeland Security Committee had revealed our government’s difficulty obtaining information about Syrian refugees from within Syria.

For instance, the report quotes former FBI Director James Comey as saying, “We can query our databases until the cows come home, but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person...You can only query what you have collected.”

Similar problems restricted information from other Muslim countries as well.

Trump, therefore, seemed to me to be saying that until we can do adequate background investigations, we should suspend the entry of Muslim aliens.

President’s authority to exclude aliens.

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Published originally on Huffington Post.

About the author
Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years; he subsequently served as the immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing and Collaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and he has been in private practice as an immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson.