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Attorney Susan Church On President Trump's New Immigration Ban

March 06, 2017

  • Caitlin O'Keefe, Meghna Chakrabarti

Attorney Susan Church was one of the first lawyers to challenge President Trump's first executive order on immigration. She won a temporary restraining order against that first executive order just 34 hours after it was issued. We spoke with Susan Church to get her reaction to the president's new executive order, and to hear whether her concerns about that order were addressed.

Guest: Susan Church, chair of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She tweets @SusanBChurch11.

Interview Highlights

On the legality of the executive order

"I think what's important to realize is in the almost universal condemnation of the original order by almost every federal judge who looked at it, the opinion was clear — that it was intended as a ban against Muslims. And you can't rewrite the order and pretend that your intent or your purpose was different in writing the original order, so I think he's very vulnerable just on, looks like a Muslim ban, acts like a Muslim ban, talks like a Muslim ban, it's probably still a Muslim ban, no matter how much you rewrite it with the help of some more educated lawyers."

On what constitutional grounds someone might challenge the executive order

"One of the points in evaluating whether or not something is constitutional or not, in excluding entire classes of people from countries, is what is the intent. And I don't think the intent has changed. They may have spelled out different waivers, and they have may have exempted certain visa holders and current lawful permit residents, which certainly puts you at a disadvantage on arguing on due process grounds — if you don't already have the visa, it's harder to challenge the denial of the visa on due process grounds — or the universal revocation of them like they did originally, but I think the intent is not any different. And they've put a lot of fancy language in there, but intent is still there and the intent is still problematic for this administration."

On how the executive order differs from existing law

"You know what's interesting, is in the attempt to justify this particular new Muslim ban, the administration points to two particular sets of terrorism acts. One is terrorism by two Iraqi nationals — well, we now know that Iraq is removed from the ban — and the other is an alleged act of terrorism by a United States citizen who came to the country as a child. So they're so desperate to justify this, that a judge will be able to look at that and see through it and suggest that maybe the purported reason for this Muslim ban is not really what is intended.

"More important if you look at Section 5, implementing uniformed screening, and you go through the types of uniformed screening, like in-person interviews, they already exist ... A database of identity documents ... already exist ... I mean everything that's listed in Section 5, which is the enhanced screening and vetting, already exist under the Immigration and Nationality Act and has been occurring for many many years. These countries have all been on President Obama's list since 2006. So a judge would be able to look at OK, you're saying you have to do this for the security of the country, yet you're not doing anything new or distinct that would suggest you really are protecting the country."

This segment aired on March 6, 2017.


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