U.S. President Donald Trump has issued orders indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from the United States and temporarily suspending visits from a wide swathe of other Muslim countries.
Vowing to protect the country from “foreign terrorists,” Trump on January 27 ordered the suspension of all immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days until a rigorous new “extreme vetting” process is put in place.
The White House said the countries targeted were Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
Trump also decreed a four-month suspension of the U.S. refugee program for countries outside Syria, an order affecting refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And he cut in half to 50,000 the number of refugees the United States will accept from around the world this year.
A major exception to the refugee bans was for Syrian Christians, who Trump said were persecuted in their homeland.
“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here,” Trump said as he unveiled the orders at the Pentagon.
“We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
Civil rights groups condemned the measures as discriminatory and unconstitutional for targeting a specific religion.
They said the moves, which Trump had promised during his campaign, would strand refugees in dangerous places and backfire by feeding hatred toward the United States in the Muslim world and tarnishing its reputation as a land welcoming of immigrants and the world’s “poor and huddled masses.”
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