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Sunday, January 29, 2023

IN-DEPTH: Inside Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting,’ Temporary Halt on Immigrants from Jihadi Hotbeds; ‘Not a Muslim Ban,’ Officials Stress

President Trump’s Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, suspends entry for 90 days from the date of the order of immigrants and nonimmigrants of aliens from countries designated pursuant to Division 0, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 consolidated Appropriations Act (HR 2029, PL 114-113), passed by Congress under President Obama, because they “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Saying this is "a Muslim ban is inaccurate," South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan stressed Monday, saying, "I have seen more distortion, hyperbole and outright lies about President Trump’s national security executive order from Democrats and the media over the past few days than I have seen on about any other issue since I came to Congress."

Under Title 8, Section 1182 of the US Code, the president has authority to use a proclamation to suspend the entry of “any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States [who] would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” for however long he deems necessary. This provision was included in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952.

Similarly, President Obama issued a presidential proclamation in 2011 which suspended the entry of “any alien who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in” war crimes or other violations of humanitarian law.

The designated countries affected by Trump’s Executiver order are not explicitly named in the order, only Syria is. The other unnamed nations were designated in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY2016, signed into law by Obama on December 18, 2015.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) targeted these seven countries as countries of concern. In February 2016, DHS stated “it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries. Three additional countries, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria were later named by the Obama administration “as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.”

Furthermore, all of Obama’s top national security leaders testified they were concerned ISIS, and perhaps Al Qaeda, would try to blend in with refugees – especially from Syria – to gain entry into the US.

Almost immediately after Friday’s Executive Order, there was confusion regarding individuals covered under the order who hold green cards and who were already vetted and cleared for entry into the US.

US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay temporarily halting removal of individuals detained following Trump’s Executive Order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by the ACLU on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport Friday.

Soon thereafter, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a temporary restraining order to block forseven days the removal of any green-card holders detained at Dulles International Airport. Meanwhile, a federal district court in Massachusetts and Seattle issued similar injunctions blocking Trump’s Executive Order.

Monday night, President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, after stating publicly, “for as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so,” noting, “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right … At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Orderis lawful.”

However, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel reviewed and approved Trump’s Executive Order before it was signed Friday.

"It is the right and duty of the President to do everything in his legal and Constitutional power to protect the American people. Saturday’s ruling does not undercut the President’s Executive Order. All stopped visas will remain stopped. All halted admissions will remain halted. All restricted travel will remain prohibited. The Executive Order is a vital action toward strengthening America’s borders, and therefore sovereignty. The order remains in place," a White House spokesperson said in a statement.

DHS stated Sunday, “Upon issuance of the court orders yesterday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately began taking steps to comply with the orders. Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security continues to work with our partners in the Departments of Justice and State to implement President Trump’s Executive Order on protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States. We are committed to ensuring that all individuals affected by the Executive Orders, including those affected by the court orders, are being provided all rights afforded under the law. We are also working closely with airline partners to prevent travelers who would not be granted entry under the Executive Orders from boarding international flights to the US. Therefore, we do not anticipate that further individuals traveling by air to the United States will be affected."

As DHS Secretary John Kelly previously stated in applying the provisions of the president’s Executive Order, the entry of lawful permanent residents is in the national interest. Accordingly, absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”

“We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders. We are and will continue to enforce President Trump’s Executive Order humanely and with professionalism. DHS will continue to protect the homeland,” DHS said.

DHS said it was granting waivers for lawful permanent residents to reenter the United States.

The Executive Order

Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act explicitly listed  Iraq and Syria, Iran and Sudan as state sponsors of terrorism, and Libya, Somalia and Yemen as “area[s] of concern” as designated by DHS.

The order also requires the secretaries of the Departments of State and Homeland Security to, as appropriate, “cease refugee processing of and the admittance of nationals of Syria as refugees until such time as [the President has] determined that sufficient changes have been made to the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to ensure its alignment with the national interest.”

“To ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are establishedto prevent the terrorist or criminal infiltration of foreign nationals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [the President] hereby [found] that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries designated pursuant to Division 0, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 consolidated Appropriations Act would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 30 days from the date of this order.”

The order requires the Secretary of State to suspend USRAP for 120 days, during which the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security, “shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures can be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not posea threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures. Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures. Upon the date that is 120 days after this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for whom the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.”

Not surprisingly, wrote Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, founder and president of the New York-based American Center for Democracy and the Economic Warfare Institute, “Trump’s Executive Order … has been met, as anticipated, with alarm by opponents at home and abroad. Some resent the new American president and his actions to protect the country, as he promised to do.”

A former visiting scholar at Columbia University Institute of War and Peace Studies, research scholar at the New York University School of Law and afellow at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Jesus College at Cambridge University, Ehrenfeld wrote, “To prevent such individuals from entering the US, the Executive Order requests the development of a uniform screening program, which in fact would reinforce requirements that [were] deliberately ignored by the Obama administration. However, radical-Islamic terrorist are not limited to the countries list by the Executive Order. There are unknown numbers of ISIS volunteers who returned to Europe and other Western nations, which the new Executive Order exempts. But even if the screening is done by the book, and all necessary documentation has been obtained and verified, and the applicant declares he holds no ill intentions toward America and Americans, nothing available to the screeners today would easily reveal that he or she is lying.”

Trump’s Executive Order set forth that, “It is the policy of the United States to protect our citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.”

As a matter of policy, the order directed, “The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.”

Continuing, the order stated, “Hundreds of foreign-born individuals have been convicted orimplicated in terrorism related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after claiming asylum; after receiving visitor student, or employment visas; or through the US refugee resettlement program. 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 our country. The United States 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.”

“In order to protect Americans,” the order stated, “we must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward our country and its founding principles. We cannot, and should not, admit into our country those who do not support the US Constitution, or thosewho would place violent religious edicts over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry and hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice other religions) or those who would oppress members of one race, one gender or sexual orientation.”

Under the section of the order, Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern, “The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country for adjudication of any visa, admission or other benefit under the INA adequate to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.”

The order further requires the “Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Federal Bureau of lnvestigation shall implement a program during the adjudication process for immigration benefits to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis, with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission . This program will include the development of uniform screening standards and procedures, such as in-person interviews; the creation of a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positive contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and, a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.”

In their Homeland Security Today report, Reasonable ‘Extreme’ Vetting of Refugees Makes Perfect Sense, Dr. Godfrey Garner and M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., wrote that, “The world is in the midst of a refugee crisis the extent of which we have never seen. Islamic extremism and violence have driven people of several nations from their homes, and as the homeless flee, jihadi groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda have taken full advantage of the accompanying chaos to launch attacks and generate more confusion and instability.”

“For America,” they noted, “this arrives at a time when we’re experiencing instability … our experience with Islamic extremism didn’t dawn on us until 9/11. America hasn’t had the time to adjust to, or counter, the threat in a meaningful, successful way.”

“One of our greatest deficiencies in security lies in the fact we have no way of accurately knowing whether people we allow into our country are friend or foe, or whether they harbor deep-seated cultural animosity or outright hatred of Western values,” Godfrey and Jasser wrote, noting, “Enhancing this dilemma is the fact many of those who desire admittance to our nation come from countries where 30 percent to 45 percent of their young male population accept violent jihadist actions against those who do not adhere to their religious belief.”

“Most of the fighting age men hoping for asylum and a legitimate place in America have been exposed to a steady stream of indoctrination into the righteousness of Islamic extremism from the time they were old enough to understand it,” they wrote, pointing out that, “It isludicrous to assume that a significant percentage of this population has not embraced the ideology. These young- to middle-aged men have been inculcated with these values through long-standing cultural and familial teachings to the point it’s become instinctual to them. These thought processes are not easily dissuaded. And we’ve never had to deal with them before.”

“Unfortunately,” they said, “most of these countries have no records-keeping infrastructure, rendering moot a streamlined vetting process. We simply do not have a valid system to vet those seeking entry into our country, specifically from nations where Islamic extremism is more the norm than it is the exception.

DHS’s response

In response to the Executive Order, Kelly stated, “In applying the provisions of the president’s Executive Order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest. Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations [for entry].”

DHS also announced it “will … enforce all of the president’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people. The president’s Executive Orders remain in place—prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the US government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety. The president’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”

“Approximately 80 million international travelers enter the United States every year,” DHS said, noting that “less than one percent of the more than 325,000 international air travelers who arrive every day were inconvenienced [by the Executive Order] while enhanced security measures were implemented. These individuals went through enhanced security screenings and are being processed for entry to the United States, consistent with our immigration laws and judicial orders.”

DHS stated it “will faithfully execute the immigration laws, and we will treat all of those we encounter humanely and with professionalism. No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States.”

Kelly said, “The Department of Homeland Security will comply with judicial orders; faithfully enforce our immigration laws and implement the president’s Executive Orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.”

DHS announced Friday that, “The Executive Order signed on January 27, 2017, allows for the proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals. The United States has the world’s most generous immigration system, yet it has been repeatedly exploited by terrorists and other malicious actors who seek to do us harm. In order to ensure that the United States government can conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the national security risks posed from our immigration system, it imposes a 90-day suspension on entry to the United States of nationals of certain designated countries—countries that were designated by Congress and the Obama administration as posing national security risks in the Visa Waiver Program.”

“In order to protect Americans, and to advance the national interest, the United States must ensure that those entering this country will not harm the American people subsequent to their entry, and that they do not bear malicious intent toward the United States and its people,” DHS announced, noting, “The Executive Order protects the United States from countries compromised by terrorism and ensures a more rigorous vetting process. This Executive Order ensures that we have a functional immigration system that safeguards our national security.”

DHS said, “This Executive Order, as well as the two issued earlier … provide the department with additional resources, tools and personnel to carry out the critical work of securing our borders, enforcing the immigration laws of our nation, and ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety cannot enter or remain in our country. Protecting the American people is the highest priority of our government and this department.”

DHS reiterated that, “Congress provided the president of the United States, in section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, with the authority to suspend the entry of any class of aliens the president deems detrimental to the national interest. This authority has been exercised by nearly every president since President Carter, and has been a component of immigration laws since the enactment of the INA in 1952.”

Pursuant to Trump’s Executive Order, DHS announced that, “For the next 90 days, nearly all travelers, except US citizens, traveling from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen will be temporarily suspended from entry to the United States. The 90 day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.”

“Importantly, however,” DHS said, “lawful permanent residents of the United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board US bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate. The entry of these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest. Therefore, we expect swift entry for these individuals.”

In the first 30 days, DHS said it will perform a global country-by-country review of the information each country provides when their citizens apply for a US visa or immigration benefit. Countries will then have 60 days to comply with any requests from the US government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.

“DHS and the Department of State have the authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas or allow the entry of nationals of these countries into the United States when it serves the national interest,” DHS pointed out, adding, “These seven countries were designated by Congress and the Obama administration as posing a significant enough security risk to warrant additional scrutiny in the visa waiver context.”

As per Trump’s Executive Order, DHS said, “The Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to citizens of the United States.”

The Executive Order does not prohibit entry of, or visa issuanceto, travelers with diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas.

DHS, along with the Department of State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI will develop uniform screening standards for all immigration programs government-wide, DHS said, adding, “Upon resumption of the US Refugee Admissions Program, refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.”

Pursuant to the President’s Executive Order, DHS will expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system of all travelers into the United States, and, as part of a broader set of government actions, the Secretary of State will review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal.”

The Department of State will also suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure all individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas undergo an in-person interview.

Why the need for so-called ‘extreme vetting?’

“The only way to understand who an individual is and what his motivations and potential intent may be is through multiple interviews conducted over a period of time. But the interview process currently utilized to identify individuals with nefarious intent is completely ineffectual. Any interview process that involves fewer than five consecutive interviews spaced over 30-45 days yields nothing but fabrication and inaccuracy and, realistically, the interviewer must assume an intent to deceive from the beginning of the process,” Dr. Godfrey Garner and M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. earlier wrote in their Homeland Security Today report, Reasonable ‘Extreme’ Vetting of Refugees Makes Perfect Sense.

“The current process is handled by representatives of The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, (UNHCR),” they said, noting that, “The interviewers tasked with conducting this very basic foundational interview are low-level employees; some volunteers, but rarely possess the necessary skills to identify deception. These interviewers are often unconcerned about potential fraud. Many of them have never spent time in any of the countries from which the refugees are fleeing, therefore have little grasp of their culture.”

“Unfortunately,” they wrote, “the quality of this initial interview lays the foundation for all future decisions about interviewees, and at no point does the remainder of the vetting process improve. This initial interview establishes the basis of knowledge about the applicant, and it is often flawed. It is rarely improved upon throughout the remainder of the vetting process. Home country checks are performed but, because there is no recordkeeping infrastructure in place, this process, too, is moot. Once UNHCR approves a refugee for resettlement based on this minimal vetting effort, American officials assume everything is okay and perform nothing more than determine the needs of the refugee and where they should be settled.”

“There’s only one instance in which the United States is making a serious effort to properly vet individuals seeking entry into our country and, ironically, it is being used with a group of persons who pose the least danger or the least threat, and have the potential of yielding the most productive dedicated members of our society,” Garner and Zudi stated.

“In 2009,” they noted in their co-authored report, “the Department of State authorized the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) for Afghan nationals who fought with American forces. The process which included — and still includes –- ‘extreme vetting,’ assures applicants for this program — even though they risked their lives to help America and its allies — pose no threat to our nation. Even so, many of these men and women have been turned down because of issues uncovered in their vetting process. The interviews conducted with SIV applicants are carried out by American counterintelligence officials and operators, and are perfect examples of the nature of ‘extreme vetting’ Trump and others have advised. The process is rigorous, but necessary, even for these applicants.”

Garner and Zudi pointed out that, “America must accept the fact that we are, for a large segment of the Muslim population, the ‘Great Satan,’ and will forever be a primary target for extremist Islam. We must also admit and accept that Islamic militants are resourceful and permeated with a sense of patience few American’s can understand. It would be pure folly to assume ISIS recruiters will not try to entice young refugees into committing overt acts of terrorism now that they have gained access to our nation.”

Thus, they wrote, “Instituting reasonable, detailed, comprehensive vetting procedures for those who seek asylum in America is a simple matter of exercising reasonable caution. We will be targeted again and again until ISIS and militant Islam no longer exists, or is victorious. The only questions are, where and when?”

In his report, Jihadists at the Door, in the December/January 2016 issue of Homeland Security Today, Todd Bensman reported America’s counterterrorism efforts to prevent terrorist infiltration of America’s land borders has fallen short of legislative expectations, and its effectiveness is only rarely audited or assessed.

The unsettling truth is the southern border – in particular — is, and remains, an avenue for ISIS, Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist jihadi groups to enter the country. In the August 2009 Homeland Security Today cover report, Unholy Trinity, it was reported that a Defense Department commissioned report found an alliance between Latin American narco-cartels, street gangs and jihadists in which jihadists were being smuggled into the US.

Despite reporting there is no evidence to support the claim jihadists have never crossed the Southwest border into the United States, there is, in fact, considerable evidence to the contrary, including admissions of such by ranking national security officials.

Between 1999 and 2013, untold numbers of Special Interest Aliens – a term CBP uses to classify people from Muslim countries that support or from which there is a significant jihadi presence — had crossed the border. Seven-thousand were apprehended during that period of time.

Political reaction from the Hill, leftist organizations

House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) stated, “The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe … President Trump has begun to fulfill this responsibility by taking a number of critical steps within his authority to strengthen national security and the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. As ISIS terrorists have vowed to use the immigration system to inflict harm, it’s imperative that we know who is coming and going from our country. National security officials have repeatedly warned that we dramatically lack the resources and information to fully vet refugees from countries of concern, like Syria."

“Unlike his predecessor, I am pleased that President Trump is using the tools granted to him by Congress and the power granted by the Constitution to help keep America safe and ensure we know who is entering the United States. It’s sensible to hit pause on admitting foreign nationals and refugees from countries where adequate screening cannot occur, and it’s long past time for the completion of the Entry-Exit system in order to crack down on those who overstay their visas. I look forward to continue working with President Trump to ensure the safety and security of our great nation.”

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said in a statement that, “In light of the confusion and uncertainty created in the wake of the President’s Executive Order, it is clear adjustments are needed. We should not simply turn away individuals who already have lawful US visas or green cards—like those who have risked their lives serving alongside our forces overseas or who call America their home. We must be focused instead on putting in place tougher screening measures to weed out terror suspects while facilitating the entry of peaceful, freedom-loving people of all religions who see the United States as a beacon of hope. In the future, such policy changes should be better coordinated with the agencies implementing them and with Congress to ensure we get it right—and don’t undermine our nation’s credibility while trying to restore it.”

“At the same time,” McCaul said, “it is deeply irresponsible to characterize this Executive Order as a ‘Muslim ban.’ It is not. The order puts a pause on refugee admissions and temporarily halts immigration from seven countries, each of which was already designated by the Obama Administration as an area of terror concern. The US government has paused immigration from specific countries in the past in order to implement additional measures to prevent terrorist infiltration of our homeland. I have offered advice to President Trump on how to develop better, common-sense security checks for immigrants and refugees, and as the administration weighs next steps, I will press for responsible screening policies that keep Americans safe while upholding our values.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DL), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, on the other hand, said, “President Trump took executive action to deny refuge to thousands of Syrians seeking asylum from the hellacious conditions of civil war. The order also temporarily bans immigrants from several Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. I believe these actions wrongly vilify a group of people on the basis of their religion and nationality, and jeopardize our nation’s ability to lead the world with moral clarity.”

“Under the carefully considered refugee screening process put in place under the previous administration, refugees seeking asylum in the United States are already subjected to a rigorous and lengthy vetting process,” Carper assured, saying, “This includes multiple assessments, first starting at the United Nations to winnow down the pool of refugees. Once the pool is narrowed, US officials conduct extensive vetting based on biometric data, criminal history checks and screening against terrorist databases, as well as a face-to-face interview and health screening. All this happens well before any of these applicants ever set foot on US soil. On average, this process takes a year and a half. That’s a long time to wait and a lot of hurdles that a member of ISIS would have to clear if they were going to try to use the refugee program to get to the United States.”

Carper said, “The best way to combat the global threat of ISIS is to continue to degrade and destroy their forces overseas, rob them of their safe haven and hollow out their recruitment narrative that ‘ISIS is on the rise.’ We can fortify our refugee and immigrant vetting process and keep Americans safe without categorically denying safe haven for those who need our help the most—and today’s action sadly does not meet that test.”

Similarly, Democratic Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, stated, “Barring vetted, approved refugees, visa holders, and even US green card holders from boarding planes to this country or detaining them upon arrival simply because they hold passports from Muslim-majority countries does nothing to enhance homeland security. This shameful act not only has a destabilizing effect on our relationship with our allies and partners in the fight against terrorism.”

Thompson  said, “The President must begin to understand that his antics have consequences,” and that, “This reckless behavior from President Trump must stop so our national security professionals can keep their focus where it needs to be – thoroughly screening all travelers to help keep our nation’s secure.”

Trump’s Executive Order “warrants timely oversight. Congress cannot sit idly by and allow the President to continue to set our nation back with the stroke of a pen,” never mind that it was President Obama who established federal policy through Executive Orders with his infamous statement, “we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone."

Fellow California Democrat, Lucille Roybal-Allard, said, “President Trump’s Executive Order does not make us safer and abandons this nation’s commitment to refugees.  The order’s masking of religious discrimination against refugees, legal permanent residents and visa holders in the name of national security is reprehensible and illegal. It puts in place policies with astounding and inexcusable religious discrimination at levels not seen since World War II.”

César J. Blanco, political director of the Latino Victory Project, followed the Democratic line by saying, "It is disgraceful that Donald Trump signed an Executive Order restricting refugees, and on Holocaust Memorial Day of all days. Trump has sealed the doors of this country to thousands of refugees looking for a better life with a single stroke of a pen."

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center which focuses on right-wing extremists, stated, “This week, President Trump is signing a flurry of Executive Orders that enact policies matching the ugly bigotry and xenophobia of his campaign … he signed an order to begin building a wall between the United States and Mexico. A second order seeks to punish ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to use local police as federal immigration enforcers out of concern that it would hamper law enforcement.”

While “Trump’s orders are certain to thrill his most avid supporters,” Cohen stated, “like the skyscrapers that bear his name, the border wall will be nothing more than a monument to Trump’s vanity. And it will be a testament to Congress’s failure to enact meaningful immigration reform. It will waste billions of dollars at a time when more unauthorized Mexican immigrants are leaving our country than arriving.”

Trump, Cohen said, double[d] down by signing another order suspending the admission of refugees and temporarily banning people from some Muslim countries from entering the US. The truth is, it’s a shameful state of affairs. Instead of upholding fundamental American values, Trump is enacting policies that amount to state-sanctioned bigotry and divide people along racial, ethnic and religious lines. We’re a better country than that."

“We should all be outraged – and more than a little unnerved,” Cohen stated, adding, “with Trump, we’re witnessing something different, something more insidious. Something that seems pathological … Based on the lies, fear-mongering and xenophobia-based policies that we’re already seeing, it appears that the president really is channeling a movement …We should all be very alarmed.”

American Constitution Society President Caroline Fredrickson said in a statement that, “President Trump’s reckless Executive Order is a dangerous assault on real people, their families and our Constitution. The order violates the law by targeting people on the basis of their religion and causes irreparable harm to rightsof refugees and legal immigrants. We stand with all who have been detained in our nation’s airports and the lawyers and others who have come together to protect and defend them. It is so vital for our democracy that we have an independent judiciary to ensure rule of law and access to justice — may it remain so.”

Similarly, Cristóbal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, stated, "Millions of immigrant families are already feeling the consequences of Trump’s attack on our community: from creating a deportation force and imposing an unconstitutional travel ban on Muslims, to putting law-abiding immigrants including DREAMers in danger of deportation, and now targeting cities that protect undocumented immigrants. This is after just over one week in office. It is in urgent times like these that we look to our elected officials to stand up for our community, like we have seen from mayors across the country. From Los Angeles, to Boston, from Chicago to New York, mayors are standing up against Trump’s threats.”

Alex stated, "It is disappointing and incomprehensible that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez would give in to Trump’s hateful demands. Miami has been and will continue to be a city of immigrants. Making Miami-Dade’s jails turn into immigrant detention centers will undermine basic community policing policies proven to decrease crime and protect the community. Look no further than the protests happening at airports from coast to coast — folks from all walks of life have rallied to protest the immediate effects of the Muslim ban. It is crucial for elected leaders like Gimenez and others to listen to their constituents and do the right thing to protect all of us impacted by Trump’s inhumane orders."

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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