WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump is preparing to issue an executive order dramatically restricting refugee admissions to the U.S. and denying visas to individuals from countries his administration deems high-risk, according to congressional and advocacy organization sources briefed on a draft.
The executive order could still change before Trump signs it, which could happen this week. According to sources, administration officials are considering:
- Blocking refugees from war-torn Syria from entering the U.S. indefinitely.
- Suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days while the administration determines which countries pose the least risk.
- Temporarily suspending visa issuances to people in countries where the administration considers security screening inadequate ― meaning people from those countries couldn’t enter the U.S. at all.
- Capping total refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000 ― less than half of the 110,000 proposed by the Obama administration.
Sources briefed on the draft executive order said the list of countries targeted is not yet finalized, but those under consideration ― Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen ― are all Muslim-majority nations. Trump vowed last year to suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” as one of his first moves.
In its current form, the executive order would allow Trump to claim victory on one of his main campaign promises ― a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” But because it would allow some Muslims from countries other than the list of “high-risk” nations to enter the U.S., it falls short of that vow.
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment. Trump hinted at an announcement in a Tweet on Tuesday night.
Although it reflects anti-refugee sentiment spreading worldwide, the draft of Trump’s order represents a dramatic upending of current U.S. policy toward some of the globe’s most unstable regions. It will inevitably face opposition from human rights groups, civil liberties organizations, Democrats and even members of the Christian right, who have encouraged a sympathetic approach to the refugee crisis.
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