Immigration Ban Reaches Into Nevada


Joe Schoenmann

Protesters rally against Pres. Trump's immigration ban Sunday at McCarran International Airport.

In reaction to President Trump’s immigration ban, thousands protested at airports around the country Sunday, including here at McCarran International Airport.

Stephanie Grimes is the president of Nevada-NOW and helped organize the protest. She told KNPR's State of Nevada that they wanted to help anyone being detained at the airport and they wanted to show solidarity with other groups opposed to some of Pres. Trump's policies.

“We are opposed to anything that oppresses women, and women and children are disproportionately impacted by bad immigration and refugee policy,” she said.   

And she said opposing the immigration ban goes to the heart of what her organization is all about. 

“We recognize that if we hope to eliminate one form of oppression, in our case oppression against women, then we have to work to eliminate all of them.”

While protesters rallied and the ACLU sued, the question remains: is the president's action constitutional?

It is actually not an easy question to answer, according to Ian Bartrum a constitutional law professor at UNLV Boyd School of Law.

“The knee jerk response that it can’t be possible that he can have this sort of blanket ban on certain countries or certain religions,” he said.

But, immigration is not covered in the Constitution and since the 1800s Congress has had what is known as "plenary power" over immigration, which essentially means Congress can make just about any law governing immigration.

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However, Bartrum said courts have started to look at those powers and the question still remains whether the president has those same powers.  

Bartrum said the executive orders by President Trump has renewed interest in constitutional law. He said many people are starting to realize that parts of the Constitution are "ill defined." He said it is making people question what is "American" and what is "unAmerican."

“And the response to some of the things that have already gone on in the past week and half here has been to awaken people to the reality that the Constitution is only as strong as the people who stand up to protect it” he said.  

For Grimes and her group, the election of Donald Trump has solidified their resolve. She believes people opposed to the president are more willing to oppose him openly.

“People are uniting and going out there to resist and recognizing that in this situation a rising tide really does lift all ships,” she said.  

Nevada is a relatively small state, so the immigration ban might be felt more here than in other states around the country.

For example, in just the last three months of 2016, Nevada accepted 241 refugees, according to the US. State Department. More than half, 138, are from the seven majority Muslim countries on the president's banned list. Fifty-nine are from Syria. There was confusion, but the law now appears not to apply to Christians from those countries.



Stephanie Grimes, president, Nevada-NOW; Ian Bartrum, UNLV Boyd School of Law Professor



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