President Donald Trump will start rolling out executive actions on immigration Wednesday – beginning with an order to start building his wall along the border with Mexico.
The president is also expected to take action over the next few days to temporarily ban immigration from Muslim countries deemed a ‘threat to national security’ – namely Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia.
In addition, Trump is set to sign other domestic immigration enforcement measures that will include targeting sanctuary cities that decline to prosecute undocumented aliens.
Another key policy shift being discussed is whether to scrap rules protecting hundreds of thousands of children of illegal immigrants from deportation.
In total over the next few days, Trump is expected to:
- Direct federal funds toward the construction of a wall along the southern border
- Target so-called ‘sanctuary’ cities that decline to prosecute undocumented aliens
Measures still being finalized and subject to change include:
- A four-month freeze on admission of all refugees
- Grant exceptions to Christians and other minorities fleeing Muslim persecution
- Halt visas to people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen because the Muslim-majority countries are ‘terror prone’
- The visa bans would last at least 30 days while vetting processes are reviewed
- Stop protecting illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children from deportation
The Donald will get started with an executive order authorizing the wall on Wednesday, while the immigration bans are still being finalized and could come later in the week.
Trump is also expected to sign an order pertaining to his promised wall along the United States’ southern border with Mexico. Above is a tweet put out by Trump on Tuesday
The president posted a tweet on Tuesday evening signaling that major announcements were in the offing.
‘Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Among many other things, we will build the wall!’
The new Trump directives are expected to stop most refugees including those from Syria coming to America while vetting processes are reviewed. This could last for four months, or an indefinite amount of time.
The one exception is religious minorities fleeing persecution – which would apply to Christians fleeing Syria and other Muslim majority countries, according to several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.
The proposed plans also temporary visa ban on all people entering from some Muslim majority countries that pose a perceived terror risk – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. This would last at least 30 days.
In addition the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) – which has shielded illegal immigrant children from deportation by granting them work permits – could be axed after Trump vowed to do so during his campaign, according to the Washington Post.
RECORD NUMBER OF MUSLIM REFUGEES FLED TO THE US IN 2016
The US government permitted 38,901 Muslim refugees to enter the country in 2016, nearly half of the total number of refugees it permitted into its borders, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
The figure represents the highest number of Muslim refugees that have been permitted into the US since data on religious affiliation became publicly available in 2002.
It followed increasing escalation in Syria’s bloody civil war, as well as continued instability in Iraq and Afghanistan and the collapse of Libya’s government.
The US allowed nearly the same number of Christians into the country – 37,521.
Fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, was the first time in 10 years that the US admitted more Muslims than Christians.
The majority of the Muslim refugees who entered the US last year were from Syria (12,486) and Somalia (9,012).
The rest came from Iraq (7,853), Burma (3,145) – where Muslims are harshly discriminated against – Afghanistan (2,664), and other countries.
The Obama administration aimed to absorb 10,000 Syrian refugees. Instead, it exceeded the goal by 2,486.
The Republican president was expected to sign the orders starting the wall and targeting sanctuary cities today at the Washington headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration and border security.
On the campaign trail, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States to protect Americans from jihadist attacks.
Both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, have since said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose migrants could pose a threat, rather than placing a ban on people who follow a specific religion.
Many Trump supporters decried Democratic President Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that those fleeing the country’s civil war would carry out attacks.
Detractors could launch legal challenges to the moves if all the countries subject to the ban are Muslim-majority nations, said immigration expert Hiroshi Motomura at UCLA School of Law. Legal arguments could claim the executive orders discriminate against a particular religion, which would be unconstitutional, he said.
“His comments during the campaign and a number of people on his team focused very much on religion as the target,” Motomura said.
Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, said the president had the authority to limit refugee admissions and the issuance of visas to specific countries if the administration determined it was in the public’s interest.
‘From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights,’ said Legomsky, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. ‘But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.’
To block entry from the designated countries, Trump is likely to instruct the US State Department to stop issuing visas to people from those nations, according to sources familiar with the visa process.
He could also instruct US Customs and Border Protection to stop any current visa holders from those countries from entering the United States.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the State and Homeland Security departments would work on the vetting process once Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, is installed.
Other measures may include directing all agencies to finish work on a biometric identification system for non-citizens entering and exiting the United States and a crackdown on immigrants fraudulently receiving government benefits, according to the congressional aides and immigration experts.
As president, Trump can use an executive order to halt refugee processing. President George W. Bush used that same power in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Refugee security vetting was reviewed and the process was restarted several months later.
Trump’s insistence that Mexico would pay for the wall was among his most popular proposals on the campaign trail, sparking enthusiastic cheers at his raucous rallies.
Mexico has repeatedly said it will not pay for any border wall.
Earlier this month, Trump said the building project would initially be paid for with a congressionally approved spending bill and Mexico will eventually reimburse the US, though he has not specified how he would guarantee payments.
Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the White House next week.