US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough new controls on travellers from seven Muslim countries. Making good on one of his most controversial campaign promises, Trump said he was making America safe from “radical Islamic terrorists.”
Trump’s decree suspends the entire US refugee resettlement program for at least 120 days while tough new vetting rules are established. These new protocols will, “Ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”
In addition, it specifically bars Syrian refugees from the United States indefinitely, or until the president himself decides that they no longer pose a threat.
Meanwhile, no visas will be issued for 90 days to migrants or visitors from seven mainly-Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
During the suspensions of the refugee and visa programs, new rules will be devised for what Trump as called the “extreme vetting” of applicants’ backgrounds. Some exceptions will be made for members of “religious minorities,” which — in the countries targeted by the decree — would imply favorable treatment for Christians.
Ahmed Rehab, director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said his group would mount legal challenges to fight the order “tooth and nail.”
“It is targeting people based on their faith and national origin, and not on their character or their criminality,” he said.
Trump’s supporters defend the measures as necessary to prevent supporters of al-Qaida or the Islamic State group from infiltrating the US homeland disguised as refugees.