Donald Trump expected to order Mexican border wall and temporarily ban refugees

White House aides say the president will begin with his border wall on Wednesday

Justin Carissimo
New York
Wednesday 25 January 2017 00:18 GMT
Trump holds a meeting with business leaders at the White House
Trump holds a meeting with business leaders at the White House

Donald Trump is expected to sign multiple executive orders on immigration this week, beginning with the construction of his infamous, Mexican border wall on Wednesday. He’s also seeking to prevent Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.

The president will begin rolling out executive actions that include preparations for his wall on the US-Mexico border along with other enforcement plans, according to two administration officials who spoke to The Associated Press.

On Wednesday afternoon, the president will travel to the Department of Homeland Security to direct the agency begin construction on the wall and repair fencing along the border. The executive order will also increase the staff at the Customs and Border Protection agency by hiring an additional 5,000 employees.

A second order seeks to eliminate sanctuary cities where governments refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. CNN reports that it will triple resources for Immigration and Custom Enforcement and direct the feds to identify illegal immigrants in the states.

In addition to the border wall construction, the president is preparing to restrict access to the country from immigrants, refugees, and some visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, Reuters reports, citing congressional aides briefed on the orders.

The restrictions will likely include a multi-month ban on admitting immigrants from all countries until the State Department and Department of Homeland Security finalize an "extreme vetting" process.

On the campaign trail, Mr Trump pledged to tighten US immigration policies, including a complete ban on Muslim immigrants from entering the states. He also promised to strengthen border security by building a wall while basically forcing the Mexican government to pay for it. The promise became one of the earliest policies and staple of his campaign.

He eventually softened his stance on both policies while promising to implement the process of extreme vetting for immigrants leaving countries in the Middle East. And come January, the newly elected president’s transition team began asking Congress to push funding for the wall through the US appropriations budget.

Humanitarian groups and civil action organizations across the states immediately expressed concern over the executive orders Tuesday night.

"Donald Trump is making good on the most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail,” National Iranian American Council said in a statement. “He called for a Muslim ban and is now taking the first steps to implement one. This will not stand. The American people are better than this.”

Nihad Awad, the national executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, condemned the initial media reports of President Trump’s immigration orders.

"These [executive orders] will not make our nation safer,” he tweeted Tuesday night, “rather they will make it more fearful and less welcoming.”

Bill Frelick, the Refugee Policy Director for Human Rights Watch, also condemned President Trump for his decision to suspend refugees from war torn countries.

“President’s Trump possible executive order to suspend admission of refugees disregards the fact that refugees identified for US resettlement are, by US statute, people for whom the United States has found ‘a special humanitarian concern,’ and who have been thoroughly and extensively vetted and screened. Refugees come from all over the world, from a diverse range of religious and economic backgrounds, but have in common that they are all fleeing persecution,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

“If there are any questions whatsoever concerning a refugee’s background, that person is not admitted. In fact, many refugees who have been admitted to the US, whether Syrian or from elsewhere, are the victims of terrorism and other persecution.”

He continued, “At a time when there are more displaced people around the globe than there have been since the end of World War II, a decision by the Trump administration to suspend the US refugee program would not only abandon the US’ leadership role on this issue but also reject the longstanding bipartisan nature of support for this initiative and undermine commitments to important allies, such as Jordan and Kenya, who host hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Monday that President Trump would be making his immigration policies a priority in the coming weeks.

"First and foremost, the president's been very, very clear that we need to direct agencies to focus on those who are in this country illegally and have a record — a criminal record or poses a threat to the American people," he said at the briefing. "That's where the priorities are going to be."

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