President Trump Has Every Right to Close the US–Mexico Border

April 2, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019


As the national emergency fight rages on in Congress, the unfortunate reality is that people continue to enter the United States illegally. One of the primary avenues by which this is happening is through Mexico.

As a result, President Donald Trump recently indicated that if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop illegal crossings from Mexico into the United States, then he will close the U.S.–Mexico border as soon as this week. While some in Congress continue to try to stymie the president’s efforts to build the wall in accordance with the National Emergency Act, the president may still close the border under a separate legal provision.

According to Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

“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, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Notably, the law permits the president to take such action when he believes the entry of any aliens would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” This standard is very general and broad.

As explained in the Conservative Review, “That includes public welfare, health concerns, values, attitudes, etc.” In addition, the president’s power under this law is plenary, meaning that it is absolute and the courts shouldn’t interfere with the president’s decision.

A recent article in the New York Post highlighted some of the risks and dangers that currently exist at the border:

“Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan warned that the situation on the border was at a ‘breaking point’ and said that ‘apprehensions are on pace to surpass 100,000 this month.’

“’CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border, and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso,’ McAleenan said.

“He said many of the illegal immigrants trying to cross the border arrive with serious injuries or are suffering from diseases like chickenpox and the flu, overwhelming agents and detention centers.”

This description appears to fit squarely within the “detrimental to the interests of the United States” standard. Therefore, Trump should be well within his right to utilize Section 212(f) if he decides to do so.

Incidentally, he may also refer to Section 215(a)(1), which prohibits any alien from entering or departing the United States except under reasonable rules or regulations and subject to any limitations that the president may prescribe.

Together, these two provisions allow the president to close the border or set specific conditions on how people may apply for entry.

To date, congressional Democrats and some congressional Republicans continue to object to the president’s emergency declaration stemming from the border crisis. Various lawsuits have been filed relative to the emergency, and the Supreme Court will likely be called upon to end the debate.

While the president has strong legal grounds to stand on relative to his emergency declaration, these two sections provide another mechanism with which to deal with the worsening border crisis. Former President Barack Obama utilized Section 212(f) many times, while former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton previously utilized Section 215(a)(1). Therefore, the use of these laws has ample precedent.

Given the current conditions at the U.S.–Mexico border, Trump should utilize his authorized power and close the border as soon as possible. The United States is a melting pot of diverse cultures and nationalities, and welcomes people from other countries with open arms. However, as the president has stated from the start, immigrants who want to enter the country must do so legally. This condition is not negotiable.

In light of Mexico’s alleged failure to support or enforce the president’s immigration policies, the current risks at the border, and the unwillingness of some in Congress to build the wall via emergency declaration, Trump should seriously consider utilizing one or both of these sections to close the border and, ultimately, to protect the country.

Elad Hakim is a writer, commentator, and attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.  

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.