WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (APP): Amid widespread protests over his
executive order to suspend refugee program and ban foreign nationals from seven Muslim countries to enter the United States, President Trump sought to defend the move, saying it was not a Muslim ban and indicated that visas to these countries would resume in the next 90 days.
A top Trump aide, however, appeared to walk back on one of the most
controversial impact of the ban, its impact on green-card holders, those who have been granted permanent legal residents status by the government.
“As far as green-card holders going forward, it doesn’t affect
them,” Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told the NBC News a day after government officials appeared to say that the ban was also applicable on green-card holders.
Through an executive order this weekend, President Trump suspended the program that allowed Syrian refugee entry to the United States, in addition to banning foreign nationals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia aimed at what the President said screen out “radical Islamic terrorists”.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the White House on Sunday to protest the executive order, parts of which has been weakened by ruling by federal judges with regard to deportation of those who landed on the US soil.
Large protests were also held in other major cities including in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and at airports in many cities where people assembled to create cheering sections for arriving refugees.
Those were detained at the airports or disallowed travels included people with dual citizenship with any of the banned countries as well as students who held green cards. Many of those detained were eventually released as federal judges in at least 16 states ruled against the deportation.
The Justice Department, however, said that it will continue to implement the order by the President who said it was not a Muslim ban but was about keeping the United States safe. “There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order,” he said in a statement issued by the White House.
He went on saying that the US would resume issuing visas to all countries “once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days”.
While, Mr. Trump is casting his measures in terms of anti-terrorism efforts, many media reports quoting several current and former US officials, said that it would more like prove counterproductive and weaken the counter-terrorism defenses the United States has erected over the past 16 years. Those expressing such fears included Senators from Mr. Trump’s own party.
“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” said Republican Senator Lindsey O Graham and Senator John McCain, in a joint statement.
“The whole order is and will be read as another anti-Islam, anti-Muslim action by this president and his administration,” a Washington Post report quoted Paul Pillar, a former top official in the CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center, as saying.” It is not targeted where the threat is, and the anti-Islam message that it sends is more likely to make America less safe.