Immigration Laws and Iranian Students

Headnotes: 

The President has authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to limit or halt entry of Iranian nationals into the United States.  He also has available to him under that statute a number of options by which he may regulate the conditions under which Iranian nationals already present in the country remain here or depart.

While the matter is not free from doubt, a reasonable reading of § 241(a)(7) of the INA would allow the Attorney General to take into account adverse foreign policy consequences in determining whether an alien’s continued presence in the United States is prejudicial to the public interest, so as to render him or her deportable.  However, it would be constitutionally in appropriate to identify members of the class of deportable persons in terms of their exercise of First Amendment rights.

Both the INA and the Constitution require that all persons be given a hearing and an opportunity for judicial review before being deported; however, neither the INA nor the Constitution would preclude the Attorney General or Congress from taking action directed solely at Iranian nationals, particularly in light of the serious national security and foreign policy interests at stake in the present crisis.

Updated July 9, 2014