Accuracy in Media

To many legal scholars, the Supreme Court’s ruling that President Trump’s travel ban could go forward came as less of a surprise than the narrow 5-4 victory by which the president’s legal team prevailed.

The power of the president to implement immigration laws passed by Congress is nearly absolute and the Court traditionally has taken a hands-off approach when asked to review the political branches; immigration decisions and policymaking.

According to the Washington Post, this news “marked a milestone in his attempt to paint broad swaths of immigrants as dangerous – a rhetorical strategy that has underpinned the administration’s sweeping efforts to unilaterally curtail immigration.”

The Post’s story, “Travel-ban ruling could embolden Trump in remaking U.S. immigration system,” begins by making a point the president himself often makes – that he campaigned on promises to get tough on the border, and the American people want him to do it.

“Since taking office 18 months ago, Trump has amplified and attempted to codify into policy his campaign-trail warnings of the threats posed by foreigners who attempt to enter the United States, including those who come through legal challenges.”

It followed with a paragraph that could have been written about the Obama administration.

“Shunting aside a Congress mired in a decades-long stalemate over immigration, the president has wielded his executive authority to pursue a hard-line agenda,” the Post’s David Nakamura wrote.

“The Trump administration has ramped up arrests of illegal immigrants, slashed refugee programs, criminalized unauthorized border crossings, attempted to terminate a deferred-action program for immigrants who came as children and – until Trump reversed himself last week – implemented a policy that separated families at the border between the United States and Mexico.”

Trump and his aides have vowed to keep even more of their campaign promises, the Post warned.

The president is poised to “further test the limits of his statutory authority to enforce border-control laws without explicit approval from lawmakers,” the Post wrote without explaining how there could be laws to enforce that did not have explicit approval from Congress.

“The ban, which originally applied to six majority-Muslim nations, represented the audacity of Trump’s ambition in the early days of his administration – but also, over the past year, the potential legal limits of his authority,” Nakamura wrote. “The administration suffered several humiliating legal setbacks in lower courts to immigrant rights groups that had cast Trump’s order as a xenophobic attack on Muslims that violated the Constitution.”

The Supreme Court weighed the potential legal limits on Trump’s authority and found they were few, and it’s hard to argue – particularly in view of the Court’s decision on Tuesday – that it was Trump who “suffered several humiliating legal setbacks.” The dissent of one justice focused on limiting Trump’s power because, she said, he had arrived at the decision through anti-Muslim reasoning. The Court rejected that statements Trump made beforehand could be used to strike down the ban.

The Post offered some history, but the explanation did not take into account photos that emerged last week of kids being kept in cages and sleeping on floors with foil blankets during the Obama administration.

“Obama sought to cast the majority of immigrants, even those in the country illegally, as law-abiding and productive members of society whose presence helped spur economic growth and added to the nation’s cultural vibrancy,” Nakamura wrote. “He implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected nearly 800,000 younger immigrants known as “dreamers” from deportation.

“But his effort to expand the program to cover millions of parents of U.S. citizens was blocked when a deadlocked Supreme Court in 2016 failed to overturn a lower court’s injunction of the program.”

The Post did not say why this was considered a failure on the part of the Court.

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