WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) – President Trump signed a new executive order Monday that will impose a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas to people from six predominantly Muslim nations and will suspend the U.S. refugee program for all countries for 120 days, a senior Department of Homeland Security official said Monday.
Unlike the original executive order from Jan. 27 that now sits in legal limbo, Iraq is the one country excluded from the 90-day ban, the official said, because the Iraqi government has made “firm commitments” to the U.S. to work toward increased cooperation in terms of information-sharing.
The revised order will also not block Syrian refugees from the U.S. indefinitely, as the original ban had directed, and the 120-day halt to the refugee program will apply to all countries. Like the original order, the administration is lowering the previous administration’s cap for refugees admitted to the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000 for the current fiscal year.
The 90-day ban, which will apply to Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, will not take effect until March 16 at 12:01 a.m., the DHS official said, who added that it will lead to a “very orderly process” and there will not be “chaos” at airports or people being stopped in the airports on Monday night.
Lawful permanent residents, or people who have green cards, as well as people with current valid visas are exempt and not affected by the new order, the official said. For people whose visas were provisionally revoked as a result of the original travel ban on Jan. 27, they will still be able to travel to the U.S., the official said.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly released the following statement on the President’s Executive Order signed Monday:
“Fourteen years ago on March 1, 2003, DHS was established. We did so as a nation because we needed to rethink our approach to homeland security. Many will recall the conclusions we reached then; that we needed to overcome a “lack of imagination” with regard to the threats we faced, and, second, that we needed to overcome our collective inability to take the dots of intelligence and arrange them into a more comprehensive picture of the threats posed to America and our way of life.
“Though much has changed since then, both in the world and at DHS, it is clear that Americans are not invulnerable to terrorist threats, and that our enemies will exploit our freedoms and generosity to harm us.
“The Executive Order signed today by President Trump will make America safer, and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system. We must undertake a rigorous review of our visa and refugee vetting programs to increase our confidence in the entry decisions we make for visitors and immigrants to the United States. We cannot risk the prospect of malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives.
“The Executive Order signed today is prospective in nature—applying only to foreign nationals outside of the United States who do not have a valid visa. It is important to note that nothing in this executive order affects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country. If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you. But unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.
“The Department of Homeland Security has worked closely with the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the White House to create an executive order that addresses our information concerns while protecting the homeland and our citizens.
“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security—like their brothers and sisters throughout law enforcement—are decent Americans of character and conscience. They are no less so than the governors of our states and territories, of our senators and members of the congress, of our city mayors and advocacy groups. They are sworn to enforce the laws as passed by the U.S. Congress and would be in violation of the law—and their sworn oaths—if they did not do so. We will continue to work closely with our operating components and across government to implement and enforce it humanely, respectfully, and with professionalism.
“I want to thank the President for his leadership on this issue and his steadfast support of DHS’ important law enforcement, security, and counterterrorism missions.”
Aaron Rippenkroeger, President & CEO, Refugee Services of Texas released this statement on the new executive order:
We are deeply disappointed by the Executive Order issued today by the Trump administration banning travel to the U.S. for individuals from six countries, instituting a complete stop in refugee arrivals for the next four months, and renewing a commitment to reduce refugee arrivals to the U.S. to 50,000 people.
The consistent and inappropriate conflation between refugees and terrorism is unfounded and unconscionable and represents a dark moment in the history of the United States. Refugees are fleeing violence and persecution to find a new home for their families in peace and safety.
There has never been a deadly terrorist act committed by a refugee since the U.S. refugee program was formalized in 1980.
Numerous recent reports, including from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, emphasize that this politically-motivated action will not make American citizens any safer. In fact, studies show that the crime rate and incidents of violence among former refugees in the U.S. is dramatically lower than that among native-born Americans.
The U.S. has the most stringent refugee security vetting process in the history of the world by any country, and refugees are by far the most heavily vetted of all individuals traveling to the U.S.
Over 70% of these refugees are women and children, and over 70% of these individuals are coming to the U.S. to join family members who already live here. Separating families needlessly is cruel and un-American. This action will again leave vulnerable families in limbo, waiting for a refuge once promised to them, that now may never come.
Sadly, the continuous anti-refugee messaging by the Trump administration conveys an ongoing theme of persecution of vulnerable people here in the United States, based on a false premise that over two years of security vetting, including 21 different steps carried out by numerous national security and intelligence agencies, is somehow not extreme enough.
Less than 1% of refugees in the world ever make it through the full resettlement process, which is also why any individual wishing to cause harm in the U.S. would never attempt to gain entry to the country through the refugee program – because the chances of actually making it are so small.
For those who do arrive to the U.S., they have historically been greeted with a warm welcome by the millions of Americans who care about refugees and understand what they have been through. These Americans have made their voices heard once again in recent weeks, clearly stating that this action does not reflect their views and stands in the way of their efforts to live out their faith and their compassion for others.
We urge the Trump administration to rescind this harmful Executive Order and lead America back from the retreat from our values as a country and our standing in the world at a time of record forced migration due to violence and persecution. Millions of people in this country and around the world look to America for moral leadership in times of challenge. This is not the right direction to a safer and more compassionate world.
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