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'Xenophobic' immigration order is likely unconstitutional

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Rachel Rhodes

On Monday, President Trump said in a tweet that he would sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the United States in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. The executive order is anticipated to include halting new green cards and work visas.

Stephen Yale-Loehr

Professor of immigration law

Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, is an expert on immigration and asylum law in the United States. He says that the executive order will almost certainly face legal challenges.

Yale-Loehr says: 

“An executive order suspending all immigration into the United States is outrageous and likely unconstitutional. It is one thing to suspend immigration for certain categories of people such as terrorists. It is quite another to suspend all immigration. We have never done that before, even during world wars. Litigation is sure to challenge any such executive order.”

Ian Kysel

Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Ian Kysel, visiting assistant clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School, is co-founder and director of the International Migrants Bill of Rights Initiative and says that the proposed executive order would violate basic international human rights law.

Kysel says: 

“President Trump has announced (without any detail) that he will unilaterally seek to end immigration to the U.S. to fight the ‘invisible enemy’ (presumably COVID-19) – an action that, if attempted, would have devastating consequences for families, universities, businesses and communities around the country. 

“Even more than doubling-down on an apparently xenophobic effort to dismantle the U.S. immigration system, a blanket ban unmoored from public health imperatives violates basic international human rights law obligations. Binding treaties the U.S. helped draft prohibit such indiscriminate acts of political theater, including because they prevent refugees from receiving sanctuary and tear families apart.”


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