President Trump on Saturday touted his executive order blocking citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The order has led to people being turned away and detained after landing in the country. In response, a large protest broke out at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, with notable demonstrations at airports around the country. Speaking in the Oval Office to reporters, Trump denied that the order was meant to target Muslims and cited the scenes at American airports as evidence that the ban is a success.
“It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over,” Trump said, according to a White House press pool report.
The order, which took effect on Friday afternoon, affects citizens from Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. It bars people from these nations from entering the United States for 90 days. Authorities said this includes people with current visas who may have temporarily departed, some of whom were detained or turned around after attempting to return to the U.S.
Trump’s order also stops all refugees from being allowed to enter the country for 120 days and halts the entry of any refugees from Syria indefinitely. On Wednesday, Yahoo News asked White House spokesman Sean Spicer about the order in his daily briefing. Spicer described it as an effort to take the “necessary steps” with people from countries that have “a propensity to do us harm” and framed it as part of Trump’s campaign promise to establish “extreme vetting” for immigrants.
During the presidential campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States. That proposal subsequently evolved into a vague promise of “extreme vetting.” In addition to measures affecting immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, top Trump administration officials have not ruled out the possibility of taking steps that could affect people from those nations who are already in the U.S. — including deportations or the establishment of a registry.
The immigration ban is part of a suite of executive orders Trump signed last week, which was his first in office. Trump also signed another order with measures to curb illegal immigration, including the construction of a wall on the southern border and hiring of additional immigration officers and Border Patrol agents. On Saturday, Trump discussed the immigration ban in the Oval Office as he signed three new executive actions: a set of new ethics regulations for executive branch appointees, a reorganization of the National Security Council, and a plan to defeat the jihadist organization ISIS.
“I think it’s going to be very successful,” Trump said of the plan for ISIS. “That’s big stuff.”
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