In February 2017, a December 2015 commentary that originally aired on a Georgia television newscast resurfaced online, published under misleading headlines implying that President Donald Trump had just banned “Sharia law” in the United States.
Multiple web sites published (sometimes without attribution) transcripts of a segment by TV anchor Ben Swann of Atlanta television station WGCL discussing then-candidate Donald Trump’s statement calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration into the U.S.
Trump said the restriction was necessary, because (in his words) “large portions” of Muslim communities harbor “great hatred towards Americans”:
Until recently we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.
Trump later added that the ban would not apply to Muslim citizens of the U.S. seeking to re-enter the country after traveling abroad.
The statement drew criticism from both President Barack Obama and Trump’s Republican primary opponents. But Swann argued that such a move would be justified under the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, citing Section 212(f) of that act, which states:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
President Trump’s executive order, issued on 28 January 2017, barred entry into the U.S. of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. On 3 February 2017, U.S. District Judge James Robart suspended the ban on a nationwide basis. A day later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Trump administration’s request to stay Robart’s ruling.