Executive Authority: What is it?

By Nehal R. Solanki-Patel

“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.”  

Article II of the Constitution and under section 212(f) of the 65-year-old provision of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) a and 8 U.S.C. 1182(f).

Executive orders are as old as the U.S. Constitution itself. In the past most orders have stemmed from acting Presidents’ desire to bypass Congress. Executive orders are intended to be rules clarifying how executive agencies ought to carry out Constitutional laws; however, they have been controversial in public opinion because they have allowed Presidents to make major decisions, even issue new laws, without Congressional consent in the past. It is also often condemned as it runs against the general logic of the Constitution— no one should have power to act unilaterally. If the order exceeds the bounds of Congressional law, the Congress has two options:

  1. Re-write or amend a previous law (the President has the right to veto the amendment).
  2. Orders can be challenged in federal court with the ground that it deviates from “Congressional Intent”.


According to State Laws, state governors, i.e. executive of their states, can also issue executive orders. For example, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Utah have issued executive state orders in the past.

Did you know Franklin D. Roosevelt issued 3728 executive orders in his 12 years in office? Woodrow Wilson with 1803 orders from 1913-1921. Next, Calvin Coolidge issued 1203 executive orders in his 5 years in the office. Here is a list of Presidents who have used authority to make changes in the History of Executive Orders:Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.55.13 AM.png

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