Trump wants to keep “communists” and “Marxists” out of the United States. This is what the law says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has announced a new campaign proposal on immigration to the United States — barring “communists” and “Marxists” from entering the country.

The former Republican president, who is making another offer in 2024, said on Saturday he would use “Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act” to “order my government to deny the entrance to all Communists and all Marxists”.

The ad recalled Trump’s ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries during his first term, which was heavily criticized as anti-Muslim and eventually revoked by President Joe Biden.

“Those who come to take advantage of our country must love our country,” Trump said during a speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, adding, “We will keep foreign Communists, Marxists and Socialists who hate Christians America.”

He also said there must be a “new law” to address Communists and Marxists who grew up in America, but did not specify what it would include.

Trump’s proposal also raised questions about whether a decades-old law could actually be used to ban all communist and Marxist immigrants from the United States, how it would work, and why Trump is so focused on these political theories in a country where few residents support them. .

Here’s a look at existing US laws and what Trump’s proposal might look like:


U.S. immigration law already prohibits people who are members of a communist party from becoming naturalized citizens or green card holders, said Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge and fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, which is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that advocates for less immigration to the United States

U.S. immigration law states that any immigrant “…who is or has been a member or affiliate of the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), national or alien, is inadmissible” .

The origins of this rule date back to 1918 when the U.S. government became concerned about “external threats from anarchism and communism,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Manual. At this time, it was also the end of World War I, communism was taking hold in the Soviet Union, and the country was soon to impose strict immigration quotas on the United States.

But, there are some exceptions. For example, people who had to join the Communist Party to get a job or if their membership was issued when they were under 16, depending on the immigration code.

The ban also does not currently apply to someone who wishes to visit the United States, for example on a tourist visa or as a student.

During his speech, Trump said he would use a particular section of US immigration law – Section 212(f) – to ban “all Communists and all Marxists.” This section gives broad authority to bar persons who are not U.S. citizens from entering the country if their entry would be “prejudicial to the interests of the United States.”


Trump’s comments about banning Communists and Marxists refer to one of his administration’s most controversial actions – often labeled by critics as a travel ban on Muslims. Opponents have cited Trump’s own tweets and rhetoric claiming the travel ban discriminates against Muslims. But the high court ruled 5-4 in favor of Trump. Chief Justice John Roberts said in the majority opinion at the time that judges were not considering whether this was good policy, but that it was well within the considerable authority of US presidents in matters of immigration and the responsibility to ensure the security of the nation.

Arthur said the case was a key indicator to him thinking Trump would be on solid legal footing if he tried to keep Communists or Marxists out of the United States. Arthur also said that foreign nationals trying to enter the United States had few constitutional rights. American citizens.

Trump was not the first president to use this specific power in immigration law to limit who can enter the United States. A 2020 Congressional Research Service report noted instances where it had been used by various presidents, but the report noted that Trump had used it to impose broader restrictions than his predecessors.


Bill Hing, a University of San Francisco professor and general counsel for the California-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said Trump would be in legal trouble if he proceeded with a blanket exclusion of all Communists or Marxists.

In the travel ban that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, Hing said the court paid particular attention to steps the Trump administration had taken to check with US embassies abroad whether they could guarantee that people from these countries would not be a threat to the United States

“You have to have a rationale,” Hing said.

This thought was echoed by immigration attorney Allen Orr, the former president of the Washington, DC-based American Immigration Lawyers Association. Orr said the version that was eventually brought to the High Court contained a “comprehensive list of exceptions”.

“It’s not a blanket ban if there are a ton of exceptions,” Orr said.


Analysts point squarely to one country: China, where tens of millions of people are members of the country’s Communist Party.

Bates Gill is the executive director of the China Analysis Center at the Asia Society. He said such a ban would have the biggest impact on China and should be viewed in that light. Gill said that beyond the large number of members being Chinese government officials, party membership has also traditionally been a route for upwardly mobile people in China who are often well-educated, urban and forward-looking. international. Since the late 1990s, Gill said, businessmen have also joined the party.

“Essentially you would ban the Chinese elite from entering the United States,” he said. “It would be broad and sweeping and of course very damaging to the relationship with China.”


There are a few, but judging by the number of National Communist Party members, it is quite a small number.

The Communist Party of America has about 15,000 people on its membership roll, party co-chair Joe Sims said. The list is “pruned regularly,” he said, but some members of this group may not be active members.

The party is growing with about 2,000 to 3,000 new members a year and has fielded candidates for local school board and city council, Sims added.

However, there is no one in elected office at the federal or state level and has not presented a presidential ticket since the mid-1980s, he said.


Sowing fears that the Communists and Marxists were about to take over the country proved an effective way for the former president to animate his base.

While there is no real risk that the United States will soon become a “Third World Marxist regime,” as Trump has suggested, these attacks have helped him target the emotions of voters in a country with a long history of anti-communist sentiment.

The tactic also helped Trump appeal to some immigrants whose families faced oppression and political persecution under communist regimes in countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Vietnam.

Trump has also baselessly referred to his Democratic rivals with these terms since he first appeared on the political scene, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republicans have stepped up similar attacks recently, claiming that “woke” policies in America were part of a Marxist agenda.

Experts say it is wrong to suggest that Communists or Marxists run major American institutions.

Biden, for example, is an advocate of capitalism who has taken executive action to promote economic competition.


Swenson reported from New York.


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