Donald Trump's executive order on refugees and immigration

Our Reporter
Donald Trump's executive order on refugees and immigration

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order making major changes to America's policies on refugees and immigration. Below is a  summary.

Syria

Mr Trump's order directs the State Department to stop issuing visas to Syrian nationals and halts the processing of Syrian refugees.

That will remain in effect until Mr Trump determines that enough security changes have been made to ensure that would-be terrorists cannot exploit weaknesses in the current vetting system.

The President also called on the Pentagon and the State Department to create a plan for safe zones in and around Syria to offer protection for Syrians fleeing the war there.

Dreams of better life crushed

 

Safe zones were proposed by both Mr Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton during the campaign and were considered by the Obama administration years ago, but ruled out because of the cost, manpower and other resources required to implement them.

 

Those challenges have only grown since Russia introduced advanced air defence systems into Syria.

That means US personnel could potentially end up confronting the Russians or Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces if the US tries to prevent Mr Assad's warplanes from operating in the zones.

 

Refugees

Mr Trump ordered a four-month suspension to America's broader refugee program. The suspension is intended to provide time to review how refugees are vetted before they are allowed to resettle in the United States.

Mr Trump's order also cuts the number of refugees the US plans to accept this budget year by more than half, to 50,000 people from around the world.

During the last budget year the US accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria.

Former president Barack Obama had set the current refugee limit at 110,000.

The temporary halt to refugee processing does include exceptions for people claiming religious persecution, so long as their religion is a minority faith in their country. That could apply to Christians from Muslim-majority countries.

 

Green card holders

 

Green card holders from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who are travelling outside America need to check with a US consulate as to whether they can return.

People who hold passports from those seven countries, but are legal permanent residents of the US, will be cleared on a case-by-case basis, according to senior administration officials.

Officials have defended the new rules saying the system moved with "astonishing rapidity" but works as intended.

 

Extreme vetting

 

Mr Trump's order did not spell out specifically what additional steps he wants to see the Homeland Security and State departments to add to the country's vetting system for refugees. Instead he directed officials to the review the refugee application and approval process to find any other security measures that can be added to prevent people who pose a threat from using the refugee program.

During the Obama administration, vetting for refugees included in-person interviews overseas, where they provided biographical details about themselves, including their families, friendships, social or political activities, employment, phone numbers, email accounts and more.

They also provided biometric information, including fingerprints. Syrians were subject to additional, classified controls that administration officials at the time declined to describe, and processing for that group routinely took years to complete.

Other immigration

Mr Trump's executive order suspends all immigration from countries with terrorism concerns for 90 days.

It is unclear from the law cited in the order which countries would be affected, though a draft of the order obtained by The Associated Press pointed to a legal provision that identified Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, all majority-Muslim countries, for at least 30 days.

The order also calls for Homeland Security and State Department officials, along with the director of national intelligence, to review what information the Government needs to fully vet would-be visitors and come up with a list of countries that do not provide it. The order says the Government will give countries 60 days to start providing the information or citizens from those countries will be barred from travelling to the US.

Barring any travel to the US from those seven countries, even temporarily, appears to at least partially fulfil a campaign promise Mr Trump made to ban Muslims from coming to the US until assurances can be made that visitors are properly vetted.

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