Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Executive Order On Immigration Calls For ‘Realignment’ Of Refugee Program

Many of the ways in which pundits thought President Donald Trump would use executive orders to curtail or utterly cancel President Barack Obama’s legacy have come true within his first week in office. Reigniting the fires behind the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, officially calling for the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico — no subject seems safe from Trump’s more divisive campaign promises. Especially immigration, against which the president signed yet another order following Secretary of Defense Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis’ swearing-in ceremony on Friday.

“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” he told reporters while signing the official documentation. “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.

While it doesn’t include the exact phrase “extreme vetting,” the measure recalls Trump’s first use of the term during a campaign address then described as a “major policy speech.” Instead, the remarks were delivered in a manner not unlike the Republican nominee’s boisterous rallies, and included things like “extreme vetting” and his repeated promise to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. As Politico noted, the president seemingly referred to this when he described the order as “the protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States” before adding, “we all know what that means.”

Further details about what the new order’s “protection” would constitute weren’t disclosed on Friday. According to a proposal draft obtained by Bloomberg ahead of the official announcement, however, seven Middle Eastern countries with predominantly Muslim populations would be targeted by an immigration ban. The seven countries identified by the draft are Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Somalia. However, three similarly populated countries where Trump has business ties — Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — were left off the list.

The exclusion of Egypt and Saudi Arabia is especially remarkable since 16 of the 19 September 11 terrorists hailed from these two countries. What’s more, as former FBI Agent turned entrepreneur Ali H. Soufan pointed out on Twitter, none of the major terrorist attacks carried out in the U.S. since September 11 were done so by citizens of the seven nations identified by the ban. Not to mention the fact that, despite fighting alongside American-led forces against ISIS for the past few years, Iraqi and Syrian citizens would no longer be allowed to immigrate into the country.

UPDATE: The New York Times published the full text of the executive order, officially titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

Of particular relevance is the order’s proclamation that Trump will “suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons [identified by the order] for 90 days” until a report requested from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence is completed. This report will “determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit” for individuals seeking entry to the U.S. for the purpose of discerning whether or not they are a “security or public-safety threat.”

The order also calls for new “uniform screening standards” for all immigration programs, as well as a “realignment” of the controversial U.S. Refugee Admissions Program responsible for admitting thousands of Syrian refugees into the country.

News of this move have been condemned by members of both parties. Even former vice-president Dick Cheney spoke out against Trump’s order on Friday night.

(Via ABC News, Politico, The Guardian and Bloomberg)