President Donald Trump on Saturday signed an executive order which establishes new vetting measures to limit the flow of refugees and ‘keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States’.
“I’m 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 he signed the executive order in his first visit to the Pentagon, a week after he was sworn in as the President.
"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," Trump said.
"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 with the new Defence Secretary Gen James Mattis (retd) and Vice President Mike Pence.
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.
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.
In addition, the US should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honour’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation, it said.
The executive order 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.
The order also prevents all persons from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the country for 30 days. Moreover, news reports had said that the US would refuse to provide its visas from these six countries.
With respect to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia it would resort to extreme vetting.
As per the executive order, the list of such countries is to be expanded. It would be those countries who 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 Christina 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.
Trump also signed an executive order that will lead to ‘a great rebuilding’ of the armed forces as he vowed to develop new aircraft, naval ships and resources for the military.
“I’m signing an executive action to begin a great rebuilding of the Armed Services of the United States, developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources, and new tools for our men and women in uniform. I'm very proud to be doing that," Trump said after signing the memorandum.
“As we prepare our budget request I think Congress is going to be very happy to see it. Our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace. We do want peace,” he said.
The memorandum directs a 30-day military readiness review by the Secretary of Defence.
Meanwhile, top Democratic lawmakers have expressed outrage over Trump's executive order on refugees, which, they said, is un-American and would badly hit genuine people and refugees.
And Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist and Nobel Peace laureate, said she was ‘heartbroken’ by the order and urged the US President not to abandon the world’s ‘most defenceless’.
IMAGE: US President Donald Trump signs an executive order he said would impose tighter vetting to prevent foreigners from entering the United States at the Pentagon in Washington. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters