Including this one.
One of the problems with election campaigns is that ideas get presented to the general public as wild, unprecedented and beyond the pale – and the general public has no idea if that’s actually true, or if these same kinds of ideas are quietly implemented all the time behind the scenes.
When Donald Trump talks about a temporary halt on immigration by Muslims, or by people from certain countries with known ties to terrorism, the news media acts as if no one has ever imagined such an idea before. And Trump is treated as a wild-eyed lunatic for suggesting it.
Is it true that this idea is entirely beyond the pale? As the Daily Caller has reported today, nothing could be farther from the truth. The last six presidents have used executive orders to ban immigration by specific classes of people – and that includes the one who’s now howling about Trump’s proposal to do the same:
Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 states: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or 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 to be appropriate.”
President Barack Obama has used the authority this statute provides six times in his tenure. In July 2011, Obama barred the entry of “anyone under a UN travel ban; anyone who violates any of 29 executive orders regarding transactions with terrorists, those who undermine the democratic process in specific countries, or transnational criminal organizations.”
In April of 2012, he barred the entry of anyone “facilitating computer or network disruption that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the government of Iran and Syria; anyone who have sold or provided goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used for such purposes; or to have materially assisted anyone whose property or interests are described.”
The Caller goes on to detail how this power was used by each president since Jimmy Carter used the power, and of course, Carter’s use of it was most similar to Trump’s. He banned all Iranians from entering the country. Similarly, Ronald Reagan banned immigration from Cubans in all but special circumstances. (I never understood that one. We should have built a gateway arch in Miami welcoming them. But anyway . . .)
So no, Trump’s proposal is not radical. That’s complete nonsense. Presidents have been exercising this very same power in various and sundry ways for generations. Now, it’s perfectly legitimate to debate the wisdom of this particular application of the power. Maybe you can make the case that it it’s too broad or that it could lead to unintended consequences. But pretending that no president has ever contemplated such an action, or that represents some sort of abuse of power, is utter nonsense.
And yet, I sort of fault the voters for being so unaware of what presidents actually do that they swallow this baloney so easily. I understand it’s hard to know things if you rely on the media for your information and they don’t tell you – but maybe people have to stop relying on the media they’ve gotten used to and seek out other sources. Otherwise they’re going to make judgments at the polls without really having any idea if the presumptions behind their votes are the slightest bit accurate.