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Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers: How Much Power Does the President Have Over Immigration Policy

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As a result of President Trump’s recent Executive Order restricting entry for people from seven Middle-Eastern countries, immigration law has been hot-button issue in the news lately. Philadelphia Immigration lawyers attempt to debunk the heart of the issue: how much authority does the U.S. president actually have over immigration law.

In the past, U.S. courts have agreed that under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the president has much authority over federal immigration law, but there are instances when that power can be tempered by the courts. These become very technical legal questions, but basically the president’s power over immigration law can be limited where there is a violation of due process (a person is not afforded a right to be heard before a tribunal), equal protection (where some people are singled out because they belong to a federally protected class as a result of their race, religion, color, nationality, gender, etc.) or where the federal government is found to violate the Establishment Clause under the Constitution, which prohibits the government from taking a side in religious debates (or at is colloquially known as: separation of church and state). The first two arguments must also be brought before the Court by people who actually have the right to due process in the United States and by people who are entitled to equal protection under U.S. law, since these privileges are usually only afforded to people who actually have ties with the United States.

Recent legal arguments against President’s Trump’s immigration executive order focused on the rights of those immediately affected by the travel, especially those already granted legal status to seek refuge, to work, or study in the U.S. and were suddenly restricted from re-entering the U.S. if they were outside the country at the time of the executive order or if they had plans to travel after the order.

What This Means for Refugees in Pennsylvania

Potential refugees or others from the seven-named countries who do not yet have processed paperwork allowing them into the country would likely not be protected under such legal arguments and it would be more difficult to make a legal argument allowing those people to enter the United States if the president could establish a reason to do so that did not violate the Establishment Clause. That argument could become tricky for the federal government attorneys to make since the president has publicly stated that he wished to assist those from the seven-named countries who are Christian despite that his administration has stated that the executive order was not motivated by religion.

Additionally, the Court that temporarily stopped the executive order which prevented entry from the seven-named countries focused on past caselaw that took into account whether the president had the support of the Congress in his decisions concerning immigration. In Court, the parties argued about whether in this instance the president had the tacit support of the Congress because of its silence or whether Congress has forbidden this sort of action. In general, courts will look more favorably on an Executive Order if the president has the support of Congress.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Advocate for Immigrants in the United States

Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. are at the forefront of immigration law changes and we can explain and analyze the rapidly changing situation to our clients. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to discuss your case today.