US President Donald Trump speaks following the ceremonial swearing-in of James Mattis as secretary of defense on January 27, 2016 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN
US President Donald Trump speaks following the ceremonial swearing-in of James Mattis as secretary of defense on January 27, 2016 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN

“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US. We don’t want them here”.

Washington : President Donald Trump on Saturday 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 on Saturday, 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.

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