Political science professor examines controversial travel-focused executive order

Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Image Credit: Bernadine Carey-Tucker
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Image Credit: Bernadine Carey-Tucker
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Image Credit: Bernadine Carey-Tucker
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Image Credit: Bernadine Carey-Tucker
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Mark Richards talks about President Donald Trump's travel ban at a February 6 presentation.
Image Credit: Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Grand Valley political science professor and chair of the university's Political Science department Mark Richards addressed the controversial executive order by President Donald Trump that limits travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries at a presentation February 6.

Richards addressed several aspects of the executive order during the presentation at Grand Valley's Office of Multicultural Affairs. He explained how the government system of checks and balances could potentially impact the scenarios that could play out with the future of the order.

Richards said that a large number of executive orders from an incoming president isn't uncommon, and that many new presidents use them to accomplish a policy goal without Congress, assuming the order is properly vetted and the rollout is smooth. He noted that both most recent former presidents from each political party, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, used executive orders.

But, he also noted that the president must have constitutional authority or legislative authority to act. He explained that in this case, both supporters and critics of the order are citing portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which seems to contradict itself in parts.

"The act says that the president can suspend entry when allowing it would be detrimental to national security, but it also says the president can't discriminate based on the place of a person's birth, so the act seems to hit both sides in this case," Richards said. 

Other factors that could impact how the order will be handled in the near future are based on the Administrative Procedures Act, which Richards said dictates that executive orders can't be "arbitrary or capricious," which is part of the basis for the lawsuit against the ban that was filed by the State of Washington on January 27.

Richards also indicated that if a federal agency has to issue a rule to implement an order, there have to be opportunities for public comment as part of the process. 

In addition to explaining the language of the executive order, Richards led a discussion about the potential impacts to business, the economy, immigrants and refugees as well as the impact on civil rights. 

A clear answer about the fate of the executive order wasn't clear from the discussion, as Richards said that action from Congress or the judicial branch will be needed to clarify the execution or rollback of the order. 

A group of several dozen students and faculty members who attended the talk also took part in a question-and-answer session with Richards once his presentation was complete. 

Richards encouraged students and faculty to stay informed on the issue as it continues to progress through the court system.