On Monday, in an address at the Pentagon, President Obama once again confirmed that he has no new plan to deal with ISIS. He maintained that the current plan has been slowly working and that, essentially, we can expect more of the same.
The president did say that in the long run the eventual defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq will result in its being unable to project its power in the U.S. But the fact is that ISIS remains decidedly unbroken and, as we saw in San Bernardino, is still attracting adherents far from its Middle East base.
So we were intrigued by the across the board rejection of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s suggestion that, inasmuch as the perpetrators of virtually all terrorist attacks around the world are Muslims, the U.S. should institute a ban on Muslim immigration at least until other, more precise efforts bear fruit.
To be sure, it is hard to understand how such a plan could work in practical terms. And we are not endorsing either the candidate or his statement. But what was really telling was the frenzied effort to dismiss any thought of even exploring the point. We were told it was beyond the power of Congress to legislate such a ban and that it in any event it would be unconstitutional if enacted.
So we looked and found the following federal law, part of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, that has long been on the books:
Whenever the president finds that the entry 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 appropriate.
And, interestingly enough, the Supreme Court has repeatedly denied challenges to immigration statutes and executive actions on the grounds they discriminated on the basis of race, national origin, and political belief. Indeed, the court has consistently held that constitutional protections Americans and people living in American territory enjoy do not apply when it comes to Congress’s authority to decide who to admit and who to exclude from the United States.
Perhaps a call for discussing more viable options should have been the response to Mr. Trump’s proposal, however extravagant it was. Surely, President Obama has never been one to require clear legal authority to accomplish what he wanted. In this case, he actually has clear and broad authority. Why are he and others opting instead for political correctness?