News & Politics

Trump Defends Refugee Policy

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in New York. The news conference was his first as President-elect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Donald Trump took to his favorite means of communicating — Twitter — to strongly defend his recent executive order on refugees that has caused chaos at airports around the world and unleashed bitter criticism at home.

USA Today:

“Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW,” Trump tweeted. “Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess.”

A federal judge in New York has issued a stay of Trump’s travel ban order pending what will likely be months of litigation.

Trump’s order late Friday banning refugees from seven Muslim Middle East countries set off protests at airports nationwide and triggered lawsuits.

Prior to the judge’s ruling, Trump’s order took effect immediately, leaving many foreign nationals and green card holders stuck at overseas locations or U.S. airports. Their fate on a case-by-case basis remains unclear.

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said people who have been held up are being given screenings and will be released if they are not considered terrorist threats. She also said the order by the Brooklyn judge — an “Obama appointee” — doesn’t apply to the anti-terrorism goal of the Trump order.

“It’s preventing, not detaining,” Conway said, calling the detentions “a small price to pay” for security.

Democrats and some Republicans said the order amounts to a Muslim ban, and will help the Islamic State cast their activities as a religious war against the West.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also appearing on Fox News Sunday, said Middle East refugees, particularly those from war-torn Syria, are already the most “carefully vetted” visitors to the United States. Durbin also noted that Trump issued his order with little or no consultations among the government officials who have to carry it out, leading to all the weekend confusion.

“It was an impulsive move by the president,” Durbin told Fox.

Durbin is either being disingenuous or is massively uninformed. Refugees from Syria had their vetting time reduced from 18 months to 3 months by the Obama administration, leading FBI Director Comey to say the process was flawed. The Obama administration continued to insist that the vetting process was “robust.”

But Durbin is absolutely right about the bewildering lack of consultation with the government officials at DHS and immigration who would be most responsible for implementing the new policy. This led to needless confusion at airports around the world as officials scrambled to interpret the executive orders.

The ban currently includes those who hold green cards as well as other permanent residents of the U.S. here on work and student visas. The administration appeared to backtrack a little on that aspect of the executive order, announcing that the cases involving those with permanent U.S. residence would be reviewed on a “case by case” basis.