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News Posted on February 16, 2017

Professor Chin Comments on Plenary Power Doctrine for KPFA

Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin was interviewed on Bay Area public radio station KPFA regarding the “plenary power doctrine,” the body of law holding that Congress and the executive branch have the power to regulate immigration largely without judicial intervention. Deference to the political branch has enabled laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act as well as similar measures that allowed the government to discriminate against noncitizens by race, gender, religion, and political views, Chin said.

Courts “have said they can do things to aliens, people who are trying to come to the United States, that would be clearly unconstitutional if they tried to do them to people in the United States,” Chin said.

Should President Trump’s executive order barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations be invalidated, Congress could respond by passing a law banning Muslim immigration, “and that could send up a test of just how solid these precedents are,” said Chin.

Gabriel "Jack" Chin is Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Law and holder of the Edward L. Barrett Endowed Chair at UC Davis School of Law. He is a prolific and much-cited criminal and immigration law scholar whose work has addressed many of the most pressing social issues of our time.