After Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his proposal Monday to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, reporters and pundits were quick to criticize the plan, saying it would undermine national security and that it’s just really, really racist.
The plan would clearly be extremely problematic, not to mention illegal, if enacted. But indulging Trump, we took a look at how such a plan would actually work if Trump managed to win the presidency:
Who exactly is banned?
Trump’s original statement called for a “total and complete shutdown” of allowing Muslims into the United States, and according to Trump’s campaign, the billionaire real estate mogul is not messing around. “Everyone,” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN said when asked if the ban would also apply to Muslim tourists. The campaign also told The Hill that the ban would include American Muslims currently abroad. How he plans to block U.S. citizens from returning to their homes was not immediately clear.
Trump did concede that Muslims currently living in the country could remain here. “I have Muslim friends, Greta, and they’re wonderful people,” he told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren. “It does not apply to people living in the country, except we have to be vigilant.”
According to a 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of the Muslim-American population are first-generation immigrants and 77 percent of Muslims living in the United States are citizens.
How long would the ban last?
In a statement, Trump’s campaign said the ban would be in place “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Whether the representatives would need to figure out what’s going on with terrorism or with Trump’s xenophobic proposal is unclear.
Trump added on Tuesday that he hoped the plan “wouldn’t take very long,” especially if it pushes Muslims to more diligently turn in their relatives, friends or neighbors who are acting suspicious. In Trump’s America, the more people who turn in their fellow airline passengers for speaking Arabic or for wearing hijabs, the sooner the ban will be lifted.
How would we know which immigrants and tourists are Muslim?
Don’t worry about those details, Trump has told reporters. Airline representatives, customs agents, and border guards would simply ask people for their religion.
“They would say: ‘Are you Muslim?’” he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday morning. If they say yes, they would not be allowed in the country. Simple, right?
Would that require a registry?
After facing backlash last month when he told reporters that he would call for American Muslims being listed on a registry, Trump backed down from the plan, arguing that he hadn’t actually proposed the plan himself, just agreed he would implement it. Trump has not clarified if the registry idea will be coming back now that his Muslim ban has been flushed out.
Is it legal?
No. Even Republican leaders are alleging that Trump’s plan would violate the Constitution. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reportedly told his colleagues Tuesday that the ban “violates at least two amendments.”
And legal experts agree. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe told MSNBC that it violates the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses and the equality dimension of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Has anyone ever done something like this?
Trump’s plan immediately drew comparisons to Adolf Hitler, but the business mogul doesn’t seem to care. When ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked him during an interview if the comparisons bother him, Trump answered with a flat out “No.” He also added that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt put Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II and, “they named highways after him.”
In fact, New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, identified as the co-chair of Trump’s state veterans coalition, actually invoked the Japanese internment as a defense of Trump’s plan. “What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps,” Baldasaro, a Marine veteran, said.