US President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries, New York Times reports.
In an executive order that he said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” Mr. Trump also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.
“We don’t want them here,” Mr. Trump said of Islamist terrorists during a signing ceremony at the Pentagon. “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.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump explained to an interviewer for the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christians in Syria were “horribly treated” and alleged that under previous administrations, “if you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.”
“I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them,” the president said.
In fact, the United States accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees. According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees (38,901) in the 2016 fiscal year.
The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ”to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”
The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Additionally, Mr. Trump signed a memorandum on Friday directing what he called “a great rebuilding of the armed services,” saying it would call for budget negotiations to acquire new planes, new ships and new resources for the nation’s military.
“Our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace,” Mr. Trump said.
Announcing his “extreme vetting” plan, the president invoked the specter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., were from Saudi Arabia. The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries are on Mr. Trump’s visa ban list.
Human rights activists roundly condemned Mr. Trump’s actions, describing them as officially sanctioned religious persecution dressed up to look like an effort to make the United States safer.
The International Rescue Committee called it “harmful and hasty.” The American Civil Liberties Union described it as a “euphemism for discriminating against Muslims.” Raymond Offensheiser, the president of Oxfam America, said the order would harm families around the world who are threatened by authoritarian governments.
“The refugees impacted by today’s decision are among the world’s most vulnerable people — women, children, and men — who are simply trying to find a safe place to live after fleeing unfathomable violence and loss,” Mr. Offensheiser said.