White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has tried and failed several times to use a little-known law that grants the president broad authority to restrict immigration based on the threat of disease to Americans—and the coronavirus crisis has provided him with an opportunity to try again, The New York Times reports. Miller, who is widely known as the mastermind behind Trump’s toughest immigration policies, drafted a “wish list” in the early days of the administration that included various authorities the president could use to restrict immigration, according to the Times. Now the Trump administration is maintaining that its orders to halt green cards, suspend immigration, and implement travel restrictions are all part of an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
A federal public health law titled “Suspension of entries and imports from designated places to prevent spread of communicable diseases,” which Miller has reportedly long targeted, allows the surgeon general and the president to ban entry into the country if a disease poses a “serious danger” to Americans. The administration has also used another federal law that gives the president power to block immigration if it “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” the Times reported.