Trump said more than once that he want to deny Muslims the entry into the USA. But can he actually do that? Would it be consistent with the U.S constitution?

I especially refer to this statement of him:

"[...] a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on."

See: http://time.com/4139476/donald-trump-shutdown-muslim-immigration/

  • 1
    Please provide citation for which of his statements relating to denying entry you are referring. For example, he said "Lastly, we must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place." in his nomination acceptance speech. Jul 22, 2016 at 13:44
  • I refer to his statements after the terror attacks in France. I will provide his statements later. I'm in hurry now.
    – BobbyPi
    Jul 22, 2016 at 13:56
  • @DrunkCynic The answer of the post you mentioned satisfies partly my question. But I don't refer especially to immigrants. I want to know, if it is possible to deny a whole community to enter U.S soil at all (not just to become a citizen but also to vacation in USA). Say I'm a law-abiding Muslim and I want to make vacation in the USA, is it then possible to deny visa only because I'm a Muslim?
    – BobbyPi
    Jul 22, 2016 at 15:59
  • I'm afraid this is more of a legal issue than a political one. For us, laws could be changed, and you're asking about the current laws. You might consider asking the question on Law. Jul 25, 2016 at 7:38

2 Answers 2


In general, yes it is. Under section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,

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. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

There's certainly some question about whether denying all non-citizen Muslims (the government has no power to bar citizens for any reason) entry into the US violates the First Amendment or not, but courts have historically been extremely deferential towards the President and Congress on the rules and regulations governing which non-citizens are granted the privilege of entering the United States. People would attempt to challenge a ban on Muslims, and certainly could succeed, but it's not necessarily a slam-dunk.

That's not an issue with denying entry to a whole community, though; the argument that a ban on Muslims is unconstitutional is that it'd be impermissible religious discrimination. A rule that says "no one habitually living in XYZ country, other than a US citizen (or maybe permanent resident, see below), may enter the United States" is certainly valid.

(There's another possible caveat to 212(f) besides not being able to deny citizens: generally, permanent residents who take a short trip abroad aren't normally considered as "seeking admission" or "being admitted" when they return. I'm unsure if 212(f) applies to them or not.)


IF you are referring to immigration laws than that falls under the legislative branch.

Article I, Section 8, clause 4 of the Con­stitution entrusts the federal legislative branch with the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” This clear textual command for uniformity establishes that the federal government, specifically Congress, is responsible for crafting the laws that determine how and when noncitizens can become nat­uralized citizens of the United States.

It was not until the late 19th centu­ry that Congress began to actively reg­ulate immigration, in particular, with measures designed to restrict Chinese immigration. By this time, the Supreme Court had begun to articulate clear limits on state immigration powers. In 1849, with the Passenger Cases, the Supreme Court struck down efforts by New York and Massachusetts to impose a head tax on incoming immigrants. Four justices concluded that such taxes usurped congressional power to regu­late commerce under Article I, Section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution.

A unan­imous court applied the same rationale in 1876, striking down a New York state statute taxing immigrants on incoming vessels in Henderson v. Mayor of New York. A few years later, in 1884, with a decision in the Head Money Cases, the Court for the first time upheld a federal regulation of immigration, also on Com­merce Clause grounds.

Powers of the president:

Article II.

Section. 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

In short, no, the president does not have the power to deny entry of a group of immigrants. This was already decided by the supreme court.

  • three years ago, the House passed a resolution expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion laws, which were based on ethnic prejudice. This is similar to banning a group of people from another country based on religion. Though there are Muslim countries outside of the Middle East like Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, etc..I think Bobby is talking about the Middle East. Either way, this would be next to near impossible to enforce as people can simply lie about their religion.
    – Noah
    Jul 22, 2016 at 17:20
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    @user3344003 how about starting by explaining just one of the ways you feel it's wrong?
    – user1530
    Jul 22, 2016 at 19:25
  • The court rulings you cite say that states can't regulate immigration because that would be usurping federal power. The President is exercising federal power, so those rulings don't apply at all here. The Congress has explicitly granted this power to the President in 8 USC 1182(f), as correctly cited in cpast's answer. Also, I have no idea why you included the President's appointment powers in this answer; that's completely irrelevant here.
    – reirab
    Jan 30, 2017 at 17:22

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