President Trump signed an executive order late Friday which temporarily bars refugees from entering the United States.
Trump signed the order on refugees while at the Pentagon, minutes after General James Mattis was sworn in as Secretary of Defense by Vice President Mike Pence at a brief ceremony which the president attended.
The executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” contained these key elements:
- Suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, prohibiting the arrival of refugees into the United States from any country during that period
- Ordered the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to undertake a complete review of the refugee vetting process
- Permanently banned Syrian refugees until President Trump determined otherwise, and
- Lowered the ceiling of refugees allowed to enter the United States during FY 2017 to 50,000.
Opponents of the federal refugee resettlement program praised Trump’s actions. “This is a great beginning, and much needed,” Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch told Breitbart News.
During the 12 months up to September 30, 2016, the federal government accepted 84,995 refugees in the United States.
In the three months and twenty-seven days since Fiscal Year 2017 began on October 1, 2016, 32,125 refugees have entered the United State
The executive order did however, allow the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the discretion, on a case by case basis, “to process . . . those refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality,”
The number of refugees granted religious-persecution waivers during the 120 suspension period is likely to be minimal.
Upon the possible resumption of the federal refugee resettlement program on May 27, 120 days from Friday, four months will remain in FY 2017. Slightly more than 4,000 refugees per month, in total 17,875 refugees, would be allowed to enter the United States during the remaining time of FY 2017.
But such a resumption will be contingent upon the judgments of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence “only for nationals of countries for which [they] have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.”
The order also directed “the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence [to] review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures,” during the 120 day suspension period.
Refugee applicants currently in the pipeline “may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures,” the executive order stated.
In the order, President Trump also “proclaim[ed] that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.”
The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced the suspension of the processing of any refugees overseas currently under consideration for acceptance to the program.