The New York Times has reported that White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, has announced a reversal of part of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.
According to Priebus, the ban will no longer apply to those who have green cards. The ban remains in effect for refugees or those who have not already obtained green cards.
This reversal was likely made in response to multiple court rulings that placed an emergency stay on Trump’s executive order as it pertains to those who hold green cards. Despite the judicial order, Priebus did say that anyone, even U.S. citizens, who traveled to the countries on Trump’s list would be subject to increased scrutiny.
‘If you’re an American citizen traveling back and forth to Libya, you are likely to be subjected to further questioning when you come into an airport. There is discretionary authority that a customs and border patrol agent has when they suspect that someone is up to no good when they travel back and forth to Libya or Yemen.’
Trump has been in office for little more than a week and has already been accused of overstepping his legal and constitutional authority. As noted, Trump’s Muslim ban was challenged in federal court, where a judge ruled that Trump’s order could cause “irreparable harm” and said in her ruling that the government was “enjoined and restrained from, in any manner and by any means, removing individuals” who had held valid visas or refugee status.
Beyond the humanitarian issues, there is a First Amendment issue involved with Trump’s Muslim ban. Trump has claimed that he is not targeting Muslims, but rather nations that are sponsors of terrorism. However, as he spoke about on Twitter, his ban carries an exemption for Christians.
‘Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!’
Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017
During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump claimed that Christians had been denied refugee status, so his administration would give them priority treatment. Trump provided no evidence to support this claim and it’s very untrue simply due to the Constitutional issues such a policy would cause. If for whatever reason, the Obama administration applied a religious test to refugees and said that only Muslims could enter, it would likely be challenged in court on First Amendment grounds.
In the coming days, Trump’s order, which says in effect, “Christians only” will likely face a First Amendment challenge since it is applying a religious test for entry into the United States.
Given Trump’s rather shaky grasp of the separation of powers, it remains to be seen whether he would obey such a court order. If not, then one hopes the Republicans would have the courage to impeach him for betraying his oath of office.
Featured image via Getty Images.