Donald Trump signs his 'Muslim ban'
US President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order to temporarily halt refugee resettlement and severely tighten restrictions on travel and immigration, specifically from seven Muslim-majority nations, according to a draft of the order.
The White House did not immediately release the text of the executive order signed by Trump at the Pentagon on Friday afternoon, however several news organisations had obtained the draft in the past few days.
At a ceremony at the Pentagon to swear in James Mattis as his secretary of defence, Trump signed a decree entitled: "Protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States."
Trump said he is establishing “new vetting measures” to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the US. “We don’t want them here,” he added.
The leaked draft order showed that Trump would block all refugees from entering the US for 120 days and suspend the acceptance of refugees from Syria indefinitely.
The president would also block all visa applicants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, who would be subjected to “extreme vetting” according to the draft.
“We want to ensure that we are not letting into our country the very threats that our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said at the Pentagon before signing the order.
In separate remarks, Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that Syrian Christians would be given priority when it comes to applying for refugee status.
Civil liberties groups have condemned the measures, arguing that they target one specific group.
“‘Extreme vetting’ is just a euphemism for discrimination against Muslims. Identifying specific countries with Muslim majorities and carving out exceptions for minority religions flies in the face of the constitutional principle that bans the government from either favoring or discriminating against particular religions,” said Anthony Romero, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois said: “Faced with the humanitarian crisis of our time, the United States cannot turn its back on children fleeing persecution, genocide, and terror. During the Holocaust we failed to fulfill to our duty to humanity. We cannot allow mindless fear to lead us into another regretful chapter in our history.”
Trump signed the executive order while the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Trump's supporters defend the measures as necessary to prevent supporters of al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group from infiltrating the US disguised as refugees.