Is the proclamation the right move? Is it legal?

  • Posted on April 23, 2020 | Updated on April 24, 2020 | 5 min read

Trump’s order, said to be supported by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, has drawn a variety of political reactions, based on party lines. Economists and academics do not seem to be offering much support for the ban and cite historical examples of how immigration is good for the U.S. economy. Some question if the proclamation can even stand up in court. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) calls it “an illegal and shocking usurpation of power.”

Reactions to the move

To no one’s surprise, reactions are mixed, and largely based on party lines. Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, offers support: “22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last month because of the China virus. Letʼs help them get back to work before we import more foreigners to compete for their jobs.”

On the Democratic side, former presidential candidate Julian Castro, rebukes Trump: “You cut off immigration, you crater our nation’s already weakened economy. What a dumb move.” 

Giving a more measured response, immigration expert and economist Michael Clemens speaks to the fact the move may actually hinder the American economy: “”In fact, economic evidence shows the opposite. In the Great Depression, the United States banned and deported most immigrants from Mexico. This act made native unemployment worse in the Depression because immigrants are the backbone of many industries that massively employ Americans.”

Another nonpartisan expert, Sarah Pierce, a lawyer and policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, agrees: “It is very well established over a long period of time that immigration is integral to sustained economic progress.” Further, Green Cards already must have a labor market test to ensure there are no available U.S. citizens to take those positions, Pierce says.

Is the order legal, and can it be challenged?

All of Trump’s major immigration policy changes have been challenged for their legality; this latest immigration ban appears to be no different. Chairman of the U.S. House Committee Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and the chair of the immigration subcommittee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), are unreserved in their declaration that Trump’s ban is not legal:  “[It is] an illegal and shocking usurpation of power. Under our Constitution, Congress writes the laws, and the president must enforce them as written.” 

A director of the think tank the Cato Institute, Alex Nowrasteh, points out that Title 42 of the U.S. code permits the president to pause immigration for health reasons. As Trump has clearly stated that the order is meant to promote the health of the economy (rather than the health of U.S. citizens), can such a justification actually hold up in court?

A UCLA law professor, Hiroshi Motomura, foresees the Trump administration defending the ban using the same rationale it used for the previous travel ban in the name of national security. Motomura thinks that Trump’s public commentary about saving jobs could undermine the administration’s legal defence of the latest ban: “When the president is on the record as not mentioning national security in any traditional sense and not even really mentioning public health, but mentioning jobs,” Motomura said, “that goes beyond what Congress intended.” 

Read the LA Times article “Trump signs immigration order sharply different from what he said he planned”

Read The Telegraph article “Donald Trump’s immigration ban: who is affected and what will the impact be?”