Trump's Immigration Ban: Is It Constitutional?

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday which effectively halted immigration from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations.

The ban came with little warning, leaving thousands of nationals of the banned countries who had traveled outside of the United States fearful of whether they will be allowed to re-enter the country. Many of those who are uncertain of being allowed entry to the United States are in possession of valid visas to enter the country or are permanent residents.

The countries affected by the ban are Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Iraq. The immigration ban includes those who possess dual citizenship.

The ACLU, which works to preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, filed a lawsuit against Trump on Saturday. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of plaintiffs who had been detained and threatened with deportation by the U.S. government, despite having valid visas to enter the country. According to the description of the lawsuit on the ACLU's website, "the executive order violates their Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights."

A New York federal judge agreed and "granted the American Civil Liberties Union's request for a nationwide temporary injunction that will block the deportation of all people stranded in U.S. airports under President Trump's new Muslim ban."

President Trump, however, argued in a Facebook post that the immigration ban has nothing to do with religion.

Whether the intent of the ban is to restrict immigrants of a certain country or a specific religion is irrelevant, according to the New York Times, as "the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin."

While Trump has quoted a 1952 law which allows the president to "suspend the entry" of "any class of aliens" determined to be threats to the United States, the 1965 act restricted this power by preventing a person from being "discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence."

Donald Trump's statement that the immigration ban has nothing to do with religion refutes his earlier campaign promise which can be found on his website. In 2015, Trump called "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" until officials could "figure out what is going on."

Trump stated that a significant portion of the Muslim population in the United States professed hatred towards Americans.

"Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again."
The ACLU has a strong case for arguing that Trump's immigration ban is illegal, and many people who agree are supporting their cause. According to the Inquisitr, the ACLU "has received millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of new members following their protest of President Trump's immigration ban."

The Inquisitr also reported that much of the money was donated by celebrities like Sia and John Legend who "pledged to donate thousands of dollars to the ACLU" to help aid in the legal battle against Trump's immigration ban.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on its website which says permanent residents will not be denied entry, but further stipulates that their entry is only guaranteed "absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare."

Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly said that "lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations."

John Kelly Clarifies Immigration Ban
[Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

The ambiguous wording seems to suggest that, under Trump's immigration ban, permanent residents from the banned countries may have to undergo additional screening.

According to Market Watch, a 2015 tweet from Mike Pence said that "calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional."

He told reporters the same day that "the United States cannot, and should not discriminate" on the basis of religion as the "free exercise of religion is at the very heart of our constitutional guarantees for all persons in this country."

The tweet was posted when Mike Pence was the governor of Indiana and remains archived on his page.

Despite his earlier stance, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly "stood behind President Trump, smiling and clapping" as Trump signed the immigration ban.

[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]