In an address after the Orlando massacre punctuated with dire warnings of impending violence, Donald J. Trump said he would “suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism” against the United States or its allies. Mr. Trump promised fixes to the immigration system that would be “tough” and “smart” and “fast.”
It sounded much like his provocative proposal to keep Muslims from entering the country, but those listening closely noticed an important change. By proposing to bar people from certain regions rather than religions, Mr. Trump had avoided the sticky issue of testing someone’s faith.
Mr. Trump’s plan, lawyers and legal scholars agree, is one that the president has the power to carry out…
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) June 19, 2016
Mr. Trump’s ban would rely on a law that allows the president “by proclamation” to restrict the entry of any immigrants who “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
The ban would probably not drastically reduce the overall flow of immigrants to the United States. Of 1.2 million immigrants who came here to live in 2013, for example, one-third were from just three countries, none of which are likely to be suspended: China, India and Mexico.
But identifying areas to include in a ban and persuading Washington to accept that definition would be the first steps that would slow down Mr. Trump.
“It takes time to turn the government around to do things, and nothing is going to happen quickly that easily,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research organization in Washington, and a former senior policy official at the Department of Homeland Security. Although the president has the power to set the broad course of immigration policy, she noted, Congress would have to approve funds for the initiative and some pieces could require new rules and a long period of public comment.