First Mexicans, now Muslims — who’s next?

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed ban on all Muslims entering the United States is perfectly legal and constitutional, one law professor argues, because the president has the power to suspend the admission of “any aliens or any class of aliens into the United States” by statute if the president finds that such entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Temple University law professor Jan Ting decries calls that Trump’s proposal is unconstitutional. He wrote in Philly.com that “prior Supreme Court opinions clearly suggest that courts would reject constitutional challenges to any president’s proposed suspension of Muslim admission into the United States in accordance with U.S. law.”

He quotes the 1977 Supreme Court decision Fiallo v. Bell: “Our cases ‘have long recognized the power to expel or exclude aliens as a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the government’s political departments largely immune from judicial control’ … ‘[I]n the exercise of its broad power over immigration and naturalization, Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.'”

Ting asks, “If the government can exclude aliens on the basis of race and ethnicity, is there any basis on which it cannot exclude aliens? The answer so far seems to be no.”

But what about religion?

As Ting notes, President Jimmy Carter banned entry into the U.S. by Iranians while they held American hostages and he required registration by Iranian nationals already in the U.S. His orders were challenged by Iranians in court and the courts decided he had such power because, quoting the 1952 case Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, “any policy toward aliens is … interwoven with … foreign relations, the war power, and the maintenance of a republican form of government. Such matters are so exclusively entrusted to the political branches of government as to be largely immune from judicial inquiry or interference.”

But what about religion?

Ting says that the courts will likely support Trump’s proposal if it is backed by a statute. But the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Article Four of the Constitution states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any public office or public trust under the United States.”

Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States with the only qualifier for banning being religion. Can that stand constitutional scrutiny?

The courts have ruled that foreigners can be excluded from entry in the U.S. for political speech. That is a protected right in the U.S. for citizens, but not for foreigners.

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But what about religion?

We all know that the First Amendment is supposed to protect religion and its practice; we all know, however, that religion and its practice are under attack throughout the United States, two articles in the Constitution notwithstanding.

Is it possible that Trump, if elected, would hit back at all those who didn’t vote for him like he intends to go after Muslims? In other words, would he establish political parameters and then demand that that all voters adhere to them or be denied the right to vote?

Would he claim national security and stop all Mexicans, Central and South Americans from coming to the U.S. legally because, as he claimed on June 16, Mexicans are rapists, except for some?

Would he stop Canadian citizens who are Muslim from crossing the bridge from Windsor, Ontario to Detroit? Would he stop army officers of ally Turkey from coming to attend the U.S Army War College? Would he stop the king of Morocco from entering the U.S., the king being a strong ally of the United States’ war on terror? Would he stop Muslim Azerbaijanis who were 100 percent allies of the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and still currently are in Afghanistan? Would Donald Trump stop Muslim Azerbaijanis who are building and own the Trump Hotel in Baku from entering the U.S.?

Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of The New York Times Syndicate (Courtesy http://thehill.com)

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