Donald Trump considering 120-day ban on refugees entering United States, claim leaked documents

US President to temporarily suspend all asylum applications and ban Syrian refugees indefinitely, in the name of 'national security'

Charlotte England
Thursday 26 January 2017 12:39
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On 25 January 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order for border security and immigration enforcement improvements at the Department of Homeland Security
On 25 January 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order for border security and immigration enforcement improvements at the Department of Homeland Security

Donald Trump is considering banning refugees from the United States for 120 days, according to leaked documents believed to be draft executive orders.

All applications for asylum should be placed on hold, while the secretary of state reviews procedures to ensure no admitted refugees jeopardise national security, the documents said.

Meanwhile, applications from Syrian refugees will be suspended indefinitely, until President Trump reverses the ban.

The draft order, entitled "Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals", was among six documents handed to a journalist at Vox by a source on Tuesday.

It stipulates that after the 120-day period, refugees will continue to be banned if they come from countries that do not have “adequate safeguards” against terrorism, as determined by the secretaries of state and homeland security and the director of national intelligence.

The list of banned countries include Syria, with the secretary of state instructed to instead provide “safe areas” inside the war-torn country and the surrounding region where Syrian nationals who have been displaced can reside.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed two bills that matched “word-for-word” the text of two of the documents received by Vox, spurring the news site – which was initially sceptical of the authenticity of the documents — to publish the remaining four, which relate to immigration, terrorism, and refugee policy.

According to Vox, the source said all of the documents were going through formal review and had not yet been approved, so may appear with considerable changes.

The draft says the total number of refugees allowed in fiscal year 2017 will be reduced from 110,000 to 50,000, and preference will continue to go to “religious minorities” — in effect this is likely to be Christians facing persecution in the Middle East.

A spokesperson for charity Help Refugees said: “Help Refugees are deeply concerned by the news that Donald Trump plans to sign executive papers on Wednesday to ban almost all refugees from entering the US, and to prevent visas for anyone from Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries with predominantly Muslim populations.

“Nearly two thirds of all refugees resettled in 2015 were accepted by the US, so the impact of this will be devastating.”

Help refugees said: “Refugees are, by definition, people seeking sanctuary from some of the most horrific circumstances and it is the duty of compassionate and progressive nations to accept their fair share. Banning refugees on the basis of their religious beliefs is abhorrent

“Halting resettlement of refugees will not, contrary to Trump's assertions, make America safer. On the contrary it will force people into the hands of traffickers and make the vigorous systems currently in place to vet refugees entering the US completely defunct.”

The draft executive order, which can be viewed as Mr Trump's "Muslim Ban" translated into a policy document, would also suspend all entry into the United States from "terrorism-sponsoring countries" and countries of concern. The vast majority of these countries — including Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — are predominantly Muslim.

If the order comes into effect, security officials will also be instructed to evaluate which countries do and do not provide enough information about visa applicants for the US to vet them for terrorism risk, and other countries could be added to the ban-list.

Travel to the US could become more difficult for most visitors, with the draft bill instructing the secretary of state to “immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program", making interviews mandatory for all non-immigrant visa seekers.

Officials will also be told to speed up implementing a biometric enty-and -xit system.

Of the four purported draft bills, a second — “Protecting Taxpayer Resources by Ensuring Our Immigration Laws Promote Accountability and Responsibility” — also takes aim at refugees.

The order, which seeks to reduce immigrants access to the welfare state, calls for a report on the cost of the entire Refugee Assistance Program — the program by which the US helps refugees get settled, obtain jobs, and learn English.

The other two draft bills completing the package handed to Vox, are a sweeping proposed order to reduce the scope of legal immigration to the US, and a bill to end a major Obama programme that has effectively protected more than 740,000 unauthorised immigrants from deportation since 2012.

The bills published on Wednesday start the process of building President Trump's infamous “wall,” and make it easier for immigration agents to arrest, detain, and deport unauthorised immigrants at the border and in the US.

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