KNOXVILLE — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday regarding immigration policy.
The order came just one week after the president’s inauguration.
The stated purpose of the executive order is the “protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.”
The order restricts visa-issuance from seven countries whose populations are feared to include individuals labeled as “detrimental to the United States”.
The temporary ban is touted as an opportunity for the Trump Administration to re-evaluate visa-issuance policies. What this means has not yet been defined.
Since the attacks on 9/11, the process of visa-issuance has been reviewed to implement better detection of potential terrorists.
Under section one of the order, Trump emphasized the importance of the visa-issuance policy, which the executive order sites as “crucial in detecting terrorist ties.”
The order says that those who do not have positive feelings toward the United States, described as a lack of support of the Constitution, those who engage in violent acts of bigotry or hatred, those who oppress Americans, and those who hold violent ideologies toward American law, should not be admitted.
The executive order declares a suspension visa-issuance and other immigration benefits to nationals of countries of “particular concern.” These countries are Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
According to the executive order, government officials will review the standards that are currently in place in these countries for visa-issuance and will suggest recommended changes to the president.
This order will require other countries to provide additional information concerning possible immigrants and the administration will use this as part of their visa-issuance decision making process.
Any countries that fail to meet the additional information requirement within 60 days of notification could be placed on a prohibited travel list.
This excludes Foreign Nationals traveling on 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.
In addition, the executive order lays out a plan that will require all government organizations to use a “uniform screening” process for all immigration programs. The “uniform screening” process will include: In-person interviews; a database of identity documents; application forms that are aimed at identifying fraudulent answers, malicious intent, fraudulent identity; a process to evaluate the applicant’s contribution to society and national interest; and a mechanism to assess intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts.
The executive order states that the actions of U.S. Refugee Admissions Programs will be suspended for 120 days while Homeland Security reviews the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional methods should be taken to ensure national security.
The admittance of refugees based on religious-based persecution, provided that they are in the religious minority, will be prioritized under this executive order.
In addition, the admittance of more than 50,000 refugees to the United States in fiscal year 2017 has been labeled as detrimental to the United States and thus suspended.
According to The Associated Press, during the last budget year, the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, including 12,587 people from Syria.
President Barack Obama had set the refugee limit for this budget year at 110,000, which was brought to 50,000 by President Trump before this suspension.
The Trump administration has said that immigrants may be allowed to enter the U.S. on a case-by-case basis if they are deemed to not pose a risk to national security or welfare, if stopping their travel here would “otherwise violate a preexisting international agreement,” or if the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship.
President Trump has faced scrutiny over the order’s stance on immigration since its release.
Former President Barack Obama’s representative Kevin Lewis released a statement Monday saying that Obama “fundamentally disagrees” with discrimination based on faith or religion,” although the statement does not directly address the executive order.
Supporters of Trump’s action say the president’s action is not without precedent.
In 2009 the discovery of two terrorists in Bowling Green, Kentucky, led to a six-month ban on processing of Iraqi refugees in 2011 under the Obama administration, according to an ABC News report.
According to the AP, House Speaker Paul Ryan has come out in support of this order. Ryan, reportedly admitted that the construction of the order was rough but said “the president has a responsibility to the security of this country.”
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham were vocal in their criticism of the lead up to the order, saying in a statement released Sunday that they believed the order was released with “little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security.”
McCain and Lindsay said that they thought the order might do more harm than good, specifically due to the conflict in Iraq.
“This executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies,” they said in a joint-statement. “Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred.”
In an executive statement released the same day, Trump defended the order.
“This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order,” he said. “I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”
Written story: Regan McSherry
Video news report: Abbey Whitaker, Chastedy Johnson and Thomas Davis