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Session Summary: Trump’s Executive Actions on Immigration

Submitted by Steve Vladeck (University of Texas School of Law)

Session Summary: Workshop on National Security Law—Discussion Group: Trump’s Executive Actions on Immigration: Travel Ban, Extreme Vetting, Border Surveillance, and Mass Deportation

Few contemporary legal disputes have generated as much interest as President Trump’s Executive Orders on immigration, especially the so-called Travel Bans (1.0 and 2.0). That interest was on display throughout Friday afternoon’s discussion group, with audience members joining the discussants in a wide-ranging conversation on the current state of the law, policy, and politics surrounding the Executive Orders.

Professor Margaret Hu (Washington & Lee), the organizer of the discussion group, led off with an overview of the topic and the plan for the program, followed by a thorough and incisive presentation on the complex and complicated statutory background from Professor Shoba Wadhia (Penn State). Professor Peter Margulies (Roger Williams) followed with an introduction to President Trump’s Executive Orders, the litigation they have provoked, and the current state of play, culminating in a detailed back-and-forth with Professor Wadhia concerning the consistency (or lack thereof) between the Executive Orders and the authority currently provided by federal immigration law.

From there, the floor was opened to a detailed back-and-forth about the statutory arguments for and against the President’s Executive Orders, including questions from Professors Emily Berman (Houston), Sahar Aziz (Rutgers), and Shalini Ray (Alabama) on the statutory arguments, and from Professors Andy Wright (Savannah) and Steve Vladeck (Texas) on the state of play in the Supreme Court, the likely explanations for the Justices’ actions in both June and July, and what might happen going forward.

The conversation then turned to a discussion of the government’s strongest arguments in support of the Executive Orders on both statutory and constitutional grounds, the strength of the government’s national security justifications, and the relevance (or lack thereof) of the President’s public statements in ascertaining whether the Orders are predicated on an impermissible discriminatory animus against Muslims. The workshop concluded with several of the discussants sharing ideas for forthcoming academic work related to the Executive Orders, with feedback from other discussants and audience members.

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