Acting on a campaign promise to ban immigration from Muslim nations “until we know what in the hell is going on,” President Donald Trump banned immigration on Saturday from seven overseas countries.The seven countries are Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Sudan and Yemen.
The ban is in effect for 90 days.
At the same time, Trump’s order stops the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and bans entry of anyone fleeing war-torn Syria indefinitely.
Notbably absent from the list is Saudi Arabia, where the 9-11 terrorists lived.
Trump said better ways of reviewing the status of immigrants would be devised during the next 3-4 months.
He said, “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.”
During the temporary ban, the Secretary of Homeland Security "shall seek ways that state and local jurisdictions may have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees," the order says.
“I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest,” the order says.
About 85,000 refugees were admitted into the U.S. in 2016. Less than half were Muslims.
Reaction to the executive order varied from applause to astonishment to dismay.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said for more than a year, he has "urged President Obama to strengthen vetting of refugees, but he took no action. I strongly support President Trump’s efforts to strengthen security screening in the refugee resettlement process. I urge the White House to quickly put new vetting processes in place, so we can continue to safely welcome refugees from all parts of the world."
Ricketts encouraged Nebraskans to seek opportunities to support and serve refugee families who are already here by reaching out to one of our three Nebraska resettlement agencies, listed at the end of this report.
The conservative think-tank, the Cato Institute, was critical.
“These policies will not improve national security and will undermine America’s efforts to combat Islamic extremism and terrorism around the world.”
The Cato Institute noted that from 1975 through 2015, only 20 refugees have been convicted of attempting or committing terrorism on U.S. soil, and only three Americans have been killed in attacks committed by refugees — and all of them were in the 1970s.
“Zero Americans have been killed by Syrian refugees in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil," the Cato report says. "The annual chance of an American dying in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.6 billion. The other 17 convictions have mainly been for aiding or attempting to join foreign terrorists.”
The head of a resettlement organization in Minnesota said refugees are already vetted.
“The average refugee has lived 20 years in a refugee camp. They have passed 12 security clearances and medical exams and have plane tickets," said Jane Graupman, executive director at the International Institute of Minnesota, which helps immigrants transition to a new life.
Refugees coming to the United States are not terrorists, Graupman said. Often, they are fleeing terrorism.
Regarding higher standards for immigrant applications from those seven countries, Trump’s order also called for The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence to review refugee application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved... do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures.”
The travel ban also put thousands of people who are already in the U.S. on edge.
University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said Monday that about 150 members of the university, including both students and faculty, are from the countries named in the ban.
“We have been working diligently to communicate with those individuals and to offer them critical guidance and support,” Bounds said. “We’re advising them to delay travel outside of the U.S. for the time being and to contact their campus international affairs office for assistance.”
“Today we’re reflecting on the inscription on our Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” Bounds added. “For us, this quote represents the enormous promise and privilege of living in a great country like ours.”
“We are unanimous in our view that this executive order is disturbing and disruptive to our students and employees,” he said. “It does not represent the values of the University of Nebraska. And we join leaders of universities around the country in urging that it be promptly reconsidered.”
Ricketts provided contact Information for Nebraska’s Refugee Resettlement Agencies:
Catholic Social Services:
Lutheran Family Services
Refugee Empowerment Center
Phone: 402-554-0759 ext. 210 or 211
And, for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
Nebraska - Omaha Field Office