Like it or not, many Americans get their news in sound bites. This approach makes some topics easy to understand, but when it comes to presidential politics, oftentimes, sound bites can be misleading. Take the controversial topic of banning Muslims from entering the US.
With London electing its first Muslim mayor, the media decided to revisit GOP presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump’s controversial statement that he would ban Muslims from entering the US. He later said the London Mayor and other prominent leaders could bypass the ban because they are “known,” but he did originally say: “I, Donald J. Trump, am calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims into the United States, until our country’s representatives can figure out what the Hell is going on.”
Trump’s comments emerged after FBI Director James Comey’s comments that it was impossible to vet refugee seekers from Iraq and Syria because they did not have documents to verify who they were nor were there databases available to run background checks. Couple that with the impact of undocumented refugees in Europe and suddenly the concern for American security is genuine.
However, the billionaire revised his blanket statement, saying everything he declares remains merely a suggestion, as he is not president yet. When pressed by the media he said, “You’d have exceptions and, ideally, you won’t have a ban very long. I mean we just have to find out what’s happening… I mean something has to happen.”
During an interview on the Fox News Radio, Brian Kilmeade asked Trump to respond to the newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim and made unkind remarks about the Republican candidate. Kahn said, “Donald Trump has ignorant views about Islam.”
Trump didn’t hold back. “Well, I assume he denies that there’s Islamic terrorism. There’s Islamic radical terrorism all over the world right now. It is a disaster what’s going on. I assume that he is denying that. I assume he is like our president that’s denying that it’s taking place. We have a serious problem — it’s a temporary ban, it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it, this is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on. But we have radical Islamic terrorism all over the world — I mean, you can start at the World Trade Center, frankly, you can go to Paris, you can go to San Bernardino, all over the world. If they want to deny it, they can deny it, I don’t choose to deny it.”
That entire scenario prompted Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to say: “His (Trump’s) latest insult is his call to stop all Muslims from entering the United States. This is both a shameless and a dangerous idea.”
But can the US ban specific ethnic groups? According to Cornell University, U.S. Code, 8 USC §1182: the president as the commander in chief does have the statutory authority to keep anyone out of the country, for any reason, he thinks best.
Cornell University pointed out: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
Plus, another avenue a “President Trump” would explore is a Muslim consortium of sorts. “I’m thinking about setting up a commission, perhaps headed by Rudy Giuliani, to take a very serious look at this problem,” Trump said.
“I think the idea of studying how we can best deal with radical Islam, and try to figure how to distinguish between all the good people who are Muslims and the bad ones, is a good idea,” America’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.
But is that lawful? “The only respect in which religion is a legal criterion in immigration choices is that fleeing religious persecution weighs in someone’s favor on the question of being granted refugee status,” professor Richard Primus, at the University of Michigan law school told CBS News. “Saying ‘no Muslims allowed’ or ‘no Christians allowed’ would not be legal. It would probably be unconstitutional.”
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor, has a slightly different take. He contends that foreign citizens enjoy fewer rights than Americans, “but it is still illegal for the government to use a religious test on foreigners. The Constitution’s bar against declaring an official religion would apply to discrimination against non-citizens.”
However, in 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that authorized the internment of 110,000 American citizens of Japanese descent. The Supreme Court ruled that decision constitutional in Korematsu v. United States. The ruling still stands, but many legal scholars believe it was a shameful decision.
With continuing violence in the Middle East, the next president will have to reshape the playbook when it comes to taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The radical terrorist group has stepped up its game by brazenly attacking Paris and Belgium earlier this year. And America’s ISIS problem hasn’t disappeared. In fact, last week, “One of the American men accused in Minnesota of trying to join the Islamic State group wanted to open up routes from Syria to the U.S. through Mexico… Guled Ali Omar told the ISIS members about the route, so that it could be used to send members to America to carry out terrorist attacks,” prosecutors alleged in a court document.
The idea isn’t new and has called into question a similar scenario that ISIS has already explored options on how it could smuggle a WMD “into the US through Mexico by using existing trafficking networks in Latin America.”
An ISIS magazine “Dabiq” reported last May: “Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table. The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their Wilāyah [province] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region. … The weapon is then transported over land until it makes it to Libya, where the mujahidin [jihadis] move it south to Nigeria. Drug shipments from Columbia bound for Europe pass through West Africa, so moving other types of contraband from East to West is just as possible. The nuke and accompanying mujahidin arrive on the shorelines of South America and are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States. From there it’s just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel and hey presto, they’re mingling with another 12 million ‘illegal’ aliens in America with a nuclear bomb in the trunk of their car.”
They also suggested that if they could use a dirty bomb, “a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive,” could easily be smuggled into and distributed throughout the US. That idea should remind Americans to stay vigilant and “say something, if they see something.”
Former President Richard Nixon famously barred singer John Lennon from entering the US for smoking pot, perhaps Nixon thought the musician could hurt America’s war effort in Vietnam with all the talk about peace? Judging by the current administration’s refusal to recognize the seriousness threat that ISIS poses, the next president will have to figure out how to “give peace a chance.”