Analysis

Britain could legally ban Donald Trump from entering the country, but would we want to?

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It’s do-able, but perhaps unwise, say top immigration lawyers

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The UK is calling for Donald Trump to be banned from entering the country, following shockingly anti-Islamic comments made by the outspoken billionaire.

And it’s not just for show — in law, it looks like it might actually happen.

This week, the Republican presidential candidate sent shockwaves around the world when he called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.

These comments have been described as “wildly dangerous” by top American legal commentator Glenn Greenwald, and have been met with universal anger and outrage.

Over 100,000 enraged Brits have signed an online petition asking Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to invoke anti-extremist legislation and ban Trump from entering the UK. With this number of signatures, the issue will be considered for debate in parliament.

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This isn’t the first time the UK has made use of outrageous petitions, particularly when controversial celebrity figures are involved. A change.org petition calling for Katie Hopkins to be swapped for 50,000 Syrian refugees has amassed support from over 60,000.

But while we’re not so convinced that Hopkins will be shipped off to Syria any time soon, it looks like Trump may actually be blocked from entering the UK.

Really.

Legal Cheek spoke to S Chelvan, an immigration barrister at No 5 Chambers, who pointed out that the Home Secretary does have a right to ban non-UK citizens from entering the country under paragraph 320 of the Immigration Rules — the same law that saw rapper Tyler the Creator barred from entering the UK earlier this year.

What does someone have to do to get banned, and has Trump done it?

Chelvan draws our attention to the case of Geller, where two US citizens with known Islamophobic views were denied entry into the UK for fear that their views may provoke serious violence and undermine community cohesion. The court confirmed the earlier case of Naik, where a non-exhaustive list of unacceptable behaviours justifying exclusion was laid down — many of which could apply to Trump.

His presence and actions in the UK could, for example, “seek to provoke others to terrorist acts”, or “foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK”.

Garden Court Chambers’ Colin Yeo agrees that, in law, Trump’s Islamophobic remarks justify exclusion, but is less convinced that a ban would actually be put into effect. He told us:

Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States could certainly be said to foster inter-community hatred so there is an arguable case that he could be excluded. Whether that would be wise or counterproductive by just adding more grist to his attention-seeking, populist mill is another question.

If Trump was banned from entering the country, there is no right to appeal available, and he would have to apply for a judicial review to challenge the decision.

Given his recent comments about London communities being so radicalised that police “fear for their lives”, we’re not so sure he’d want to come here anyway.