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US to keep out ‘radical Islamic terrorists’: Trump

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By PTI Updated: Jan 28, 2017 10:01 pm
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Washington, Jan 28: President Donald Trump today ordered “extreme vetting” of people entering the US from seven Muslim-majority countries and banned the entry of Syrian refugees until further notice, as part of new measures to “keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of America.

“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here,” Trump said after signing an executive order at the Pentagon.

The executive order “Protection of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” notes that the steps taken by the US in the aftermath of 9/11 has not been able to deter terrorists from entering the country.

“Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the US after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the US refugee resettlement program,” it said.

The countries impacted are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, according to a White House official.

The controversial move, signed a week after he was sworn- in as the President, fulfills the vow Trump made on the campaign trail to limit Muslim immigration to the US.

Trump had suggested a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.

In his comments today, the US President said, “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.”

“We will never forget the lessons of 9/11 nor the heroes who lost at the Pentagon. They were the best of us. We will honour them not only with our words, but with our actions, and that’s what we’re doing today,” said Trump flanked by Defence Secretary Gen (rtd) James Mattis and the Vice President Mike Pence.

Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the US, the executive order said.

The US must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism, it said.

“In order to protect Americans, the US must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles,” the executive order said adding that the US cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.

With respect to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the US would resort to extreme vetting.

The executive order also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Programme for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.

Other measures include a broad review of the information required from all countries to approve a visa; a review of visa schemes between nations to ensure they are “truly reciprocal” for US citizens; and the immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Programme.

But the document says exceptions to most restrictions could be made on a case-by-case basis.

As per the executive order, the list of such countries could be expanded if they fail to provide information to the US about their citizens applying for a US visa.

In an interview to Christian Broadcast Network, Trump said he would give priority to Christian refugees. “We are going to help them,” he said.

“They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough, to get into the United States?,” he said.

“If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair,” Trump said.

The signing of the executive order has been met with criticism from rights organisations, Democrats and notable figures.

Democratic Senator Kamala Harris wrote that the order had been signed on Holocaust Memorial Day. “Make no mistake this is a Muslim ban,” she wrote.

“During the Holocaust, we failed to let refugees like Anne Frank into our country. We can’t let history repeat itself,” she said.

Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Nobel Peace Laureate who was once shot by the Taliban following her advocacy for women’s education in Pakistan, wrote that she was “heartbroken”.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg also posted a lengthy note to his own profile on the site, saying he was “concerned” about the president’s executive orders, and noting that he, like many Americans, is the descendant of immigrants.

The head of American Civil Liberties Union condemned the use of the words “extreme vetting”, saying it was a “euphemism for discriminating against Muslims”.

6092
By PTI Updated: Jan 28, 2017 10:01:34 pm