U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., yesterday introduced S. 1071, the Protecting America’s Communities Act, to prohibit President Barack Obama from bringing detainees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to the United States. Chambliss has also introduced the legislation as an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill being debated on the Senate floor.
“People across America are very concerned that this administration has not developed a plan for what to do with these hard-core terrorists once the detention center at Guantanamo is shuttered,” said Chambliss. “Americans are concerned that they will be released into the United States. It is important to remember most detainees held at Guantanamo were captured on the battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq and were determined to be a threat to our nation’s security. Whatever their ties to terrorists groups or activities, these individuals should never be given the privilege of crossing our borders, even if incarcerated. To do so would be nothing short of an invitation for al-Qa’ida to operate inside our homeland.”
Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to “establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” The power of Congress “to exclude aliens from the United States and to prescribe the terms and conditions on which they come in” is absolute. The Immigration and Nationality Act contains a list of 30-plus excludable classes of aliens, including those deemed inadmissible for security reasons, such as terrorist activities. Chambliss’ legislation adds “an alien who, as of January 1, 2009, was being detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base” to the list of classes of aliens ineligible for visas or admission to the United States. The bill does not grant the executive branch waiver authority (parole authority) over this exclusion.
If the president should rely on other authority, such as his constitutional Article II powers - which Chambliss believes does not grant him this ability - to bring these detainees to the United States, the legislation adds additional safeguards to our immigration laws to ensure that they will be held and not released until they can be deported to their home country or a third country.
Finally, the legislation reaffirms that the United States is in an armed conflict with al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and associated forces, and that the president has the authority to detain enemy combatants in connection with the continuing armed conflict, regardless of the place they are captured.
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