Speaking aboard the USS York-town on the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, businessman Donald Trump called on our government to stop letting Muslims enter the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on." Trump's profanity was justified by the revelation that the Muslim wife who helped her Muslim husband massacre 14 people in San Bernardino received a visa from our government, which gave her official permission to enter the United States last year. She legally traveled from Saudi Arabia to San Bernardino and married her U.S.- born Pakistani fiancé, with whom she jointly plotted jihad against Americans.
Other presidential candidates rushed to disavow Trump's proposal, which they claimed was illegal, unconstitutional, or "not who we are," echoing a phrase that President Obama has used at least 46 times. Unconstitutional? On the contrary, the Supreme Court has never dared to limit Congress' "plenary power" over immigration, even when it was based on race, religion or national origin. In a 1977 case, for example, the Supreme Court stated that "the power to expel or exclude aliens [is] a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the government's political departments largely immune from judicial control." Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787 (1977)
That plenary power is best expressed i n this federal law: "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." That law was the work of one of our greatest U.S. Senators, Pat McCarran (D-NV), after whom the airport at Las Vegas is named. Labeled the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, Congress passed it over President Harry Truman's veto in 1952.
All during the Cold War, McCarran-Walter was successfully used to keep out aliens who were members or "fellow travelers" of the Communist party or members of "Communist front" organizations. In 1980, the same law was used by President Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis to suspend visas to anyone who wanted to come here from Iran.
In addition to barring the entry of "any class of aliens" who may be "detrimental to the interests of the United States" (a category that could include Muslims or persons of any faith who are citizens of, or have traveled to, a Muslim country), the law says the president may "impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate." They could be required to wear ankle bracelets to monitor their movements, or to provide passwords to their electronic devices and social media accounts, as a condition of the privilege of entering our country.
This Nation was founded on the fundamental principle that "we the people," through our elected representatives, have the unalienable right to pick and choose whom we shall allow to enter our great country. The Constitution which our founding fathers bequeathed "to ourselves and our posterity" does not extend its rights and benefits to the whole world.