Here is the wording of US Code 1182 (entitled “Inadmissible Aliens”) section “f” (Suspension of Entry or Imposition of Restrictions by President):
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or 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 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.”
I am not a lawyer, but that certainly seems pretty unequivocal to me. You may disagree with the law, but you can’t argue that Donald Trump was trying to circumvent existing law, unlike his predecessor, whose 2014 executive order on immigration was, by his own frequent admission, unlawful and unconstitutional.
Both Trump and Obama, just like all other politicians, lie with impunity, with frequency, and with no conscience whatsoever. The only difference between Trump’s lies and Obama’s lies is that Obama spoke smoothly and eloquently, lying so gracefully that he frequently sounded believable even when it was self-evident he was lying. Poor Donald Trump trips over his own tongue at his best, and at his worst sounds like his own incoherent tweets. The problem for President Trump is the very thing that worked to President Obama’s advantage: namely a post-literate society where only a tiny handful of nutcases (self included) have bothered to read the Constitution, or ever bother to do any fact-checking on their own.
The one thing all Americans should beware is any politician who takes an illegal action and justifies it by saying, “it was the right thing to do,” because the day may come when a politician will simply rescind one of your rights because he believed “it was the right thing to do.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt shamefully issued executive order 9066 which stripped the rights of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens of Japanese descent and put them all in internment camps. (Less well known is that 9066 also applied to Americans of German descent, over 11,000 of them, and to Americans of Italian descent, a little under 2000 of them.) It was touted as “the right thing to do.”
In spite of the hysterical hand-wringing by the media, Trump’s order applies only to people who are not residents of the United States (and therefore are not being stripped of any rights because they don’t have any Constitutional rights in their countries, let alone American Constitutional rights), and is a temporary ban (ninety days), so I personally don’t have a problem with it. But my personal opinion is of no consequence. Nor is yours, gentle reader. Nor is Donald Trump’s. Nor, even, is the personal opinion of some judge in Hawaii. All that counts is the law, and the law does not encompass anyone’s personal opinion.
Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order to prevent millions of illegal aliens from being deported was overturned by the courts because the courts ultimately agreed with Obama that it was illegal and unconstitutional, in spite of his insistence it was “the right thing to do.” And that is the point. Donald Trump’s travel ban may or may not be “the right thing to do,” but “the right thing to do” inevitably devolves down into nothing more than personal opinion, whether Franklin D. Roosevelt’s or Barack Obama’s or Donald Trump’s. Or yours or mine.
The only thing that stands between the citizen and the concentration camp—or the killing fields—is the law, and when the law is ignored, or twisted, and citizens remain silent, or worse complicit because it suits their temporary sense of safety or convenience, or their sense of morality (‘it’s the right thing to do”), Manzanar will spring up in one country, Dachau in another.