Yes, the President Can Control the Border Right Now

Investigative Reports |Press Releases

February 27, 2024

IRLI report shows no new powers are necessary

WASHINGTON – An investigative note from the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) debunks claims that the current administration lacks the authority to turn away the current wave of migrants assaulting our southern border. The note cites clear statutory authorities, as well as Supreme Court cases explicitly interpreting those statutes as giving the nation’s Chief Executive broad authority to suspend the entry of foreign nationals when their presence would be detrimental to the United States.

As IRLI’s investigations team points out, in Trump v. Hawaii the High Court expressly stated, “By its plain language, § 1182(f) [of the Immigration and Nationality Act] grants the President broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States.” Moreover the Court held, “It entrusts to the President the decisions whether and when to suspend entry (“[w]henever [he] finds that the entry” of aliens “would be detrimental” to the national interest); whose entry to suspend (“all aliens or any class of aliens”); for how long (“for such period as he shall deem necessary”); and on what conditions (“any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate”).  Nowhere did the Court indicate that § 1182(f) does not apply to asylum seekers.

Given the far-reaching border control authority Congress has delegated to the president, it is entirely unclear why the present administration refuses to restore order to our southern border. It is also unclear why this administration persists in making disingenuous statements that it can only secure the border if Congress passes new legislation.

“This report shows how the administration has been trying to misinform the public to avoid responsibility for the illegal immigration disaster that is affecting all Americans,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “They have always had the authority to address the problem, but instead prioritize appeasing their base—including corporations seeking cheap foreign labor and anti-borders activists—and their radical agenda for our country.”  

Commenting on claims by anti-borders advocates that the President can’t close the border in response to a crisis, Matt O’Brien, IRLI’s director of investigations said, “Over the years, the Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in its rulings. Time and again, it has said that Section 1182(f) gives the president sweeping powers to supplement other grounds of inadmissibility found in the INA. If the current administration cared about fixing our border problems it could do so with a single proclamation.”

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