Kutak Rock attorney Clete Samson says President Trump’s use of executive orders to regulate the entry of certain foreign nationals to the U.S. is nothing new. Samson is an immigration attorney who spent seven years as a federal trial attorney for the Department of Homeland Security trying cases throughout Nebraska and Iowa. He also served as the point of contact on all worksite enforcement cases across the nation. His comments appear in a February 6, 2017 article on the McClatchy news site that the White House shared on its official website.
The article, titled "Trump Is Not The First President To Ban Foreigners. So Why Is This Time Different?," outlines the historical use of presidential prerogative, through 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), to curtail entry into the United States. The article asserts that six out of the last seven presidents (both Democrats and Republicans) have used federal law to try to keep certain foreigners out of the country. The four most recent: Jimmy Carter denied entry to Iranians in April 1980 after a failed rescue mission for American hostages in Iran; Ronald Reagan barred migrants arriving at the borders from “the high seas” in September 1981, targeting Haitians and Cubans; Bill Clinton in November 1999 barred those responsible for repressing civilians in Kosovo; and George W. Bush in June 2001 banned those who planned or carried out wartime atrocities in the Western Balkans.
Samson says Trump’s use of executive authority follows precedent: "In general, all presidents have used executive orders to impact immigration policy.”
In each case, the presidents relied on 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), a statute that gives them wide latitude over who can come into the country; however, in the current instance numerous lawsuits have been filed on behalf of immigrants detained or barred from entering the United States. The suits generally claim that this time the Executive Order is too broad, affecting people from multiple countries, some of whom already have travel permission; and that the order may be unconstitutional because by its implementation it affects people on the basis of religion.