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 States.
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.