Trump to order immediate halt of Syrian refugee program

A Syrian man cooks outside his tent at Ritsona refugee camp north of Athens, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

A Syrian man cooks outside his tent at Ritsona refugee camp north of Athens, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Washington Examiner, by Gabby Morrongiello, January 25, 2017:

President Trump plans to halt the admittance of Syrian refugees into the U.S. and develop exhaustive new screening standards for immigrants, according to an eight-page executive order obtained by Washington Examiner.

The order, which Trump is expected to sign this week, outlines a series of vetting procedures that foreigners from Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Iran would undergo before being green-lighted for entry into the country. It also includes a 120-day suspension of refugee admissions while Homeland Security and State Department officials review existing screening measures.

“The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, as appropriate, shall cease refugee processing of and the admittance of nationals of Syria as refugees until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the [U.S. Refugee Admittance Program] to ensure its alignment with the national interest,” reads the order.

When the Trump administration decides to resume the refugee program, the order will restrict the number of individuals allowed to resettle in the U.S. to 50,000 — less than half the number of refugees the Obama administration had said the U.S. should be receive in 2017.

The draft also includes language about the establishment of “safe zones to protect vulnerable Syrian populations.”

It orders the secretary of state and secretary of defense to “produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Wednesday that executive agencies “are going to unapologetically enfore the law — no ifs, ands or buts,” though he would not comment on the executive order related to the refugee resettlement program.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised his supporters he would make changes to the current measures federal agencies use to vet U.S.-bound immigrants and refugees. According to the order, the administration will take steps to “ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward 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,” the order reads.

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