President Trump’s powers on the matter emanate from Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
On Monday night the President tweeted that he would be temporarily suspending immigration into the United States, ushering a cacophony of questions about POTUS’s powers in this area.
In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
They’re pretty clear.
According to 8 USC 1182, on Aliens and Nationality, the section entitled: “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President” or “212(f)” 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.
The section has been used by presidents past, including Ronald Reagan to tackle corruption, and George H.W. Bush to aid in the thwarting of human traffickers. Even Barack Obama invoked it, in his case to keep out those on the United Nations Security Council Travel Bans list.
Furthermore, Section 215(a) states:
“Unless otherwise ordered by the President, it shall be unlawful for any alien to depart from or enter or attempt to depart from or enter the United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may prescribe.”
In 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this presidential authority, stating the Act, “exudes deference to the President in every clause. It entrusts to the President the decisions whether and when to suspend entry, whose entry to suspend, for how long, and on what conditions.”
President Trump quite emphatically has the power to stop immigration to the United States, and for however long and almost whatever reason he so chooses.