Kentucky Wesleyan College Honors Constitution Day with Speaker

Michaela Priddy, Supervising Editor

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Kentucky Wesleyan College hosted Professor Enid Trucias-Haynes, a Professor of Law at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, in a presentation this past Monday, September 12, in Roger’s Hall to honor Constitution Day. In the presentation named “The U.S. Constitution & Immigration Exceptionalism: Racial, Ideological and Religious Exclusions,” Trucias-Haynes spoke on the question of whether or not it is constitutional to ban a group solely on their religious affiliation, specifically those of the Muslim faith.

After introducing herself, Trucias-Haynes first spoke on the core values of America, naming them as liberty, equality, and a representative democracy. She explained that the Constitution provides a “structural framework” in order to protect these core values and ensure an active participation of citizens. However, immigration values and laws are not the same as in the Constitution.

“On the topic, can Congress ban entry of noncitizens from a nonracial group, national origin group or religious group or ideology or beliefs, the answer is yes,” said Trucias-Haynes, adding that the First Amendment, which allows freedom of religion, only applies to citizens of the United States and not to noncitizens.

According to Trucias-Haynes, the nature of the United States Naturalization Laws originally stated that only free, white people could become citizens of the United States and was only revised in 1952. She then proceeded to give examples of nationalities who have been excluded in the past, including those of Chinese ancestry, Native American descent, and others.

“We have ideological exclusion in the past, and racial exclusion in the past,” said Trucias-Haynes.

As of now, Congress and the Supreme Court have not had a case come up about religion being a factor for exclusion of citizenship. However, presidential candidate Donald Trump has made statements on the banning of Muslims, which has many people asking questions on whether this action would be constitutional.

Trucias-Haynes pointed out a few problems in the possible exclusion of religious groups in her presentation. A main concern was the feasibility of knowing the religion of every person coming into the United States, including press, tourists, and visitors. As explained by Trucias-Haynes, the majority of countries do not have records on the religion of their citizens, and in-depth interviews would be needed to ensure that each person is not lying. This would mean interviewing approximately 38 million people on an annual basis.

Trucias-Haynes also pointed out that the banning of a religion would go against the core American values mentioned earlier in the lecture, stating, “We are all free to have a belief as a U.S. citizen. It’s based on the actions that we take.”

Instead, exclusion is mainly based on the action individuals take rather than their beliefs or ideologies

Trucias-Haynes called for reform, stating that there are pressures for immigration reform in this presidential election.

“The big issue are these big cases that allow unlimited power [to Congress],” said Trucias-Haynes.

After the presentation, the audience was able to ask Trucias-Haynes questions on this topic. When asked about her opinion, she stated, “I believe we are better by being open to others. That’s how we’ve become a country. We don’t have the problems of other countries because we’re open.”

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Kentucky Wesleyan College Honors Constitution Day with Speaker