President Donald Trump signed a sweeping new executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough new controls on travelers from seven Muslim countries.
Making good on one of his most controversial campaign promises, and to the horror of human rights groups, Trump said he was making America safe from “radical Islamic terrorists.”
Titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” the executive order would start to make good on Trump’s promise to tighten borders and halt certain refugees from entering the United States.
The text of the order — in a break from drafts that had been circulating earlier this week — drops a longtime Trump campaign pledge to establish safe zones in Syria to give Syrian nationals displaced by the ongoing civil war in the country a place to relocate.
The order bars all persons from certain terror-prone countries from entering the United States for 90 days and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.
The countries impacted are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, according to a White House official.
“I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry,” the order signed by Trump reads.
The total number of refugees admitted into the United States would also be capped during the 2017 fiscal year at 50,000, down more than half from the current level of 110,000.
“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said during the signing at the Pentagon after the swearing-in of Defense Secretary James Mattis. “We don’t want them here.”
He added, “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
Trump’s order will also cancel the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which once allowed repeat travelers to the United States to be able to forgo an in-person interview to renew their visa. Under the new order, these travelers will now have to have in-person interviews.
At the Pentagon, Trump met privately for about an hour with Mattis, Vice President Mike Pence, Security Adviser Mike Flynn and military officials and they discussed accelerating the defeat of ISIS, confronting global threats like North Korea, military readiness and the National Guard, a Defense official revealed. The meeting took place in “the tank,” secure room where the Joint Chiefs meet.
Trump also signed a second executive action on Friday that would spur military spending and, as Trump said, “begin the great rebuilding of the Armed Services of the United States.”
The President added that the executive action instructs Mattis to begin “developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform.”
Trump’s order on refugees has been something the White House has been considering for days and the President was seen with the document on his Air Force One desk Thursday when he flew to Philadelphia.