DALLAS (CBS11) – As supporters and critics continue to debate President Donald Trump’s executive order “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” here is a closer look at some of its more controversial aspects.
From the beginning, President Trump has said his order is not a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S. “This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
Critics though say it has the same effect as a ban because the seven nations included are majority Muslim: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
The President has also suspended the Refugee Admission Program for 120 days.
SMU Law Professor Dale Carpenter, who specializes in Constitutional Law said, “The President can exclude people based on his judgment about the need of the country including national security and including public safety, and he has very broad discretion to exercise that judgment.”
On Sunday night, a Senior Trump Administration told reporters, “The situation that exists today in parts of France, in parts of Germany, in Belgium, etc, is not a situation we want replicated inside the United States. The kind of large and permanent domestic terror threat that becomes multi-dimensional and multi-generational and becomes sort of a permanent feature, in case this, becomes a permanent feature of American life.”
Critics say they believe the order is illegal and cite a 1965 law passed by Congress called the Immigration and Nationality Act. It says the U.S. can’t discriminate against incoming immigrants based on a person’s race, sex, nationality, and place of birth.
An SMU Law Professor who specializes in Humanitarian Immigration Law, Natalie Nanasi said, “I think while the administration may say this is not a Muslim ban, I think looking at the way this has been implemented, looking at who’s affected, I think it’s difficult to see this other than a ban on Muslims who want to enter.”
But other legal experts, including Andrew McCarthy, a former U.S. Attorney who is now a columnist for National Review, disagree.
McCarthy wrote over the weekend that the President’s order is based on national security and international terrorism, and that the 1965 law doesn’t apply because it related to making sure the mix of incoming immigrants was balanced.
Professor Carpenter said as legal challenges to the executive order go forward, “Courts will be in a position of deciding which part of the law it controls and how it applies.”
The senior administration official called the implementation of the order a success, because only 109 people had been detained out of the 325,000 who typically enter the U.S. during a 24 hour period.
But some of the order’s supporters agreed with critics that its implementation was botched because those who already had visas and green cards were held for hours at airports across the country, including DFW International Airport.
There were ten people, including an 11-month-old child who is an American citizen.
All have since been released.
Attorneys who have volunteered to help anyone detained at DFW Airport say a family from one of the seven nations included in the order, has been detained since arriving on a flight from Dubai around 9:00 a.m. Monday.
The senior administration official told reporters from the beginning that Legal Permanent Residents, were exempt from the executive order.
The official acknowledged there was confusion regarding those with green cards, but said they are exempt as well.
But Professor Carpenter said the President could bar anyone with a green card from reentering the country. “In the President’s judgment, if a person represents a threat on the security of the United States, that person can be denied entry, certainly can be held. That’s a very broad authority the President has been given by Congress.”
In defending his executive order, President Trump compared it to one signed by President Obama in 2011.
But a former Obama Administration official, Jon Finer wrote Monday that the former President’s order was narrow in focus.
He said it increased vetting procedures for those Iraqis who had helped the U.S. during the war and who were applying for special immigrant visas.
Finer also said it was in response to the arrests of two Iraqi refugees on terrorism related charges.
He said it wasn’t a ban, but acknowledged the processing of those refugees slowed significantly in 2011.
Professor Nanasi said, “It implemented some additional safeguards for people from Iraq coming in on that specific visas. So it’s nothing like this unilateral ban on all people coming from multiple different countries.”
Late Monday, the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, a hold-over from the Obama Administration, said the Justice Department she will not defend the President’s order.
Yates had remained in place until President Trump’s Attorney General nominee, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is confirmed.
The confirmation vote is scheduled for Tuesday.
CBS News reports Sessions is expected to reverse Yates’ decision.
(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)