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And on the seventh full day he didn't rest, prompting worldwide unrest.

Newly inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump's latest initiative – a Friday afternoon executive order banning the admission of foreign nationals, including refugees, from several Muslim-majority countries – may be part of his unfinished populist symphony. But it struck a discordant note at home and around the world and prompted improvisational riffs at borders, in consulates, even at a top university that was awaiting the arrival of a promising cardiologist from Iran. Indeed, students heading for Yale, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, some of them permanent residents of the U.S., were either delayed or refused entry to the country. And then an emergency late-night Saturday court order in Brooklyn, N.Y., blocking part of the President's order that would see arrivals with valid visas deported.

Mr. Trump, an inadvertent advocate of chaos theory, won the Republican presidential nomination, and then the White House, by employing his unique brand of chaos. That chaos first disrupted the primaries and caucuses, then sent the political establishment into quick retreat, eventually throwing the Republican Party into upheaval and along the way upending every rule of politics and public comportment.

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Read more: Everything you need to know on Trump's actions affecting citizens from Muslim-majority countries

Opinion: Trump's 'vetting' just made the world less free – and less safe

Related: How does Trump's immigration ban affect you? A Canadian guide

At every step, experts and establishment figures said Mr. Trump had gone this far but would proceed no farther – and that his campaign promises were no more meaningful than those of many earlier presidential aspirants, notions concocted on the fly with the hope that no one believed them and, in the long run, that no one would remember them.

But Mr. Trump, a promiscuous promise-maker, is also a devout promise-keeper, and the result over the weekend was mayhem at borders and disorder at immigration offices.

But for all of Mr. Trump's consistency – he said he would impose a Muslim ban, for example, and he basically did it, banning entry from seven nations that have predominantly Muslim populations – there were some inconsistencies, for he separately said he would make allowances for Christians from those countries to enter.

Moreover, the danger for him is running so fast and so far that the American public and Washington power brokers conclude that there is a significant, broader strain of inconsistency at the heart of the Trump program.

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His ban on immigration, for example, speaks to national concerns about terrorism and broad unease about porous borders and casual immigration procedures but it also challenges a fundamental American tradition, the basis of poems, anthems and books: the notion that new Americans refresh the nation, add to its richness and contribute to its prosperity. Even Emma Goldman, the early 20th-century anarchist who was repeatedly arrested, deported and eventually died in Toronto, said America's welcoming impulse toward immigrants was the signature symbol of what that hardened revolutionary called "the generous heart of America." The political vulnerability Mr. Trump faces may grow out of his executive order on the immigration ban itself. Early in that lengthy document appears this sentence: "In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles." That passage almost surely will prompt a national debate on the founding principles of a country whose every resident, aside from Native Americans, has immigrant roots.

The President's move comes only months after the publication of City of Dreams: The 400-year Epic History of Immigrant New York by the historian Tyler Anbinder, who argues that Mr. Trump's home city has been the beneficiary of a flood of immigration, much of it by ship passing the Statue of Liberty, which bears a tablet with an excerpt from the poet Emma Lazarus that is a beloved part of the American canon, memorized by millions of schoolchildren over the span of many generations. That poem, written in 1882 and called The New Colossus, speaks of "the golden door" of American immigration and sings, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore..."

At the same time, Mr. Trump, by taking so many steps by executive order, also is employing an unusual tool for a President elected as the nominee of the Republican Party, which has traditionally looked askance at centralized power and unilateral presidential action.

It was the prominence of executive orders in the Barack Obama political toolkit that drew strong opposition from GOP congressional leaders and conservative theorists, who consider such moves at odds with their notion of minimalist government and their opposition to strong federal authority. Now, Mr. Trump is walking through the executive-order door that Mr. Obama opened, a cruel irony for Democrats who will find it more difficult to express their disapproval of the Trump initiatives.

Even so, the criticism Mr. Trump is sure to receive as this episode unfolds will come from Democrats who oppose his policies – and from Republicans who consider themselves guardians of the role of Congress in the American system.

This unusual coalition of convenience will cite the separation and balance of powers inherent in the American system to argue that the President has gone too far. Last week, for example, he ordered the hiring of 5,000 new border-patrol agents. There have been no congressional hearings on the matter, nor no authorization or appropriation votes to approve the hiring. The danger for Mr. Trump may not be from his partisan rivals but instead from the legislative branch of the government, jealous of their powers and prerogatives.

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