As spelled out to the credulous public, Trump’s proposal was to ban all Muslims forever. That’s a bad idea. It’s unreasonably xenophobic, and it prevents America from welcoming Muslims who are not religious zealots and who look favorably upon an open, pluralist society that respects the separation of church and state.
In fact, though, that’s not what Trump proposed. What he proposed, inarticulately on day one and more articulately on day two, is that the US pause all Muslim immigration. This pause will give Congress time to study the problem of jihadists and extremists coming in with ordinary Muslim folks, and to craft legislation that will provide maximum protection for Americans.
Phrased that way, a pause is not a bad idea. After all, when you live in America, and especially when you’re a citizen, you have distinct constitutional rights, one of which is the right to have your government protect you from foreign enemies who wish to become domestic.
Of course, if you are a citizen of another nation living outside of America’s borders, you have no constitutional rights whatsoever, including the right of automatic entry. The endless debate over Latin American illegals (and yes, people can be illegal if their status is such that they shouldn’t be here at all) has muddied the waters, at least in weak liberal minds.
Anyway, based upon people’s short attention spans and the misleading headlines, people on both the Left and the Right instantly began shouting out an opinion about whether an American president has the constitutional power to ban Muslims. Let me keep the answer to that one short: Yes, the president has that power. Democrat presidents have done it before, and there’s no reason a vaguely Republican businessman can’t do it again if he’s in the White House.
But why go that far? That is, why implicate the constitution at all? As Obama has shown us with his south of the border shenanigans, the president in his management capacity can simply issue signing or executive orders opening and closing the borders at his whim.