President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders banning refugees from entering the U.S. and suspending visas for anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, according to Reuters, who spoke to congressional aides who asked not to be identified.
Trump tweeted that a “big day” for national security was planned for this Wednesday, bolstering the leak’s veracity. Immigration experts told Reuters they expect the ban, which will bar any refugee except religious minorities fleeing persecution, to last for several months. The administration is expected to lower the ban only once immigration authorities have put an aggressive vetting system in place.
To carry out the ban, Trump will likely instruct the State Department to stop issuing visas for anyone from the seven countries mentioned, and tell the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service to prevent current visa holders from entering the country.
How much authority does Trump have to put all of this into place?
“From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights [to ban refugees],” said Stephen Legomsky, chief counsel for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration and a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, to Reuters.
Immigration expert Hiroshi Motomura, from the UCLA School of Law, told Reuters that detractors could still launch legal challenges if only Muslim-majority nation are subject to the ban, because discriminating against a particular religion is unconstitutional.
“His comments during the campaign and a number of people on his team focused very much on religion as the target,” Motomura said.
Trump indeed initially proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S. on the campaign trail but has since backtracked to restricting immigration based on country of origin instead.
Legality aside, Legomsky added that, while the president can limit refugee admissions and visas solely on his authority if it’s in the public’s interest, “from a policy standpoint, it would be a terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.”