WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that bans all immigrants and visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days, and opens the door to more country-based bans in future.

The order — “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” — was released on Friday evening and immediately earned the ire of human rights activists and lawmakers who called it “cruel” and discriminatory.

The seven countries mentioned in the order are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen but its effects could extend well beyond barring newcomers from these countries. It overhauls US refugee policy and initiates a fundamental shift in how the United States allows people to enter the country.


Critics term order cruel and discriminatory


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

“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,” he said.

But Senator Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, rejected his narrative. “President Trump’s cruel executive order on refugees undermines our core values and traditions (and) threatens our national security,” he said.

“This policy is dangerous, short-sighted, and will harm our alliances and partnerships,” he said, pointing out that Mr Trump “demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of our strict vetting process, the most thorough in the world.”

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, co-chairperson of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, said that President Trump’s decision-making process was “driven by his profound insecurity” rather than what’s best for hard-working Americans.

“This is not normal, and it goes well beyond the normal disagreements between political parties,” she added.

The order suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. It slashes the US refugee quota for this year to less than half of the level set by President Barack Obama, from 110,000 to 50,000. It directs immigration officials to prioritise “religious minorities” for the remaining 50,000 slots.

The order bars all refugees from countries that aren’t specifically approved by the US government and tasks the federal government with devising a new process to screen everyone hoping to immigrate to the US. This process will require each individual immigrant to prove she or he will be a “positively contributing member of society”.

The measure could also block 500,000 legal US residents, including green card holders, from returning to America from trips if they do not meet the new requirements.

“It’s extraordinarily cruel,” said Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama. He told Pro-Publica, a non-profit news organisation, that the order’s travel ban applies to all “aliens”, a term that includes anyone who isn’t an American citizen.

The order, however, exempts from the ban those citizens of the seven barred countries who hold certain diplomatic visas.

The exemption does not apply to those who hold long-term temporary visas — such as students or employees — who have the right to live in the United States and travel abroad and back.

“If applied literally, this provision would bar even those visitors who had made temporary trips abroad, for example a student who went home on winter break and is now returning,” Mr Legomsky told Pro-Publica.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2017

Opinion

Editorial

Mianwali raid
Updated 02 Feb, 2023

Mianwali raid

The military needs to share intelligence with civilian agencies to neutralise the militant menace nationwide.
Corruption unlimited
02 Feb, 2023

Corruption unlimited

PAKISTAN’S consistent slide on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index over the last several...
Women police officers
02 Feb, 2023

Women police officers

IN a heartening development, a second female police officer has been appointed as DPO in Attock, weeks after the...
Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...