Trump orders moves on border wall and 'sanctuary cities' and is considering a refugee ban - latimes
President Trump directed federal workers Wednesday to start building a border wall and begin punishing so-called sanctuary cities and is considering dramatically limiting the flow of people from other countries, including a ban on Syrian refugees, in a flurry of steps that could fundamentally reshape how the U.S. deals with immigration, security and the war on terrorism.
Trump signed two executive orders designed to begin building the wall, add lockups for detaining immigrants who cross the border illegally, enhance enforcement power for border agents and strip federal funding to cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement.
“Reform of our immigration system has been at the top of President Trump’s priorities since he announced his candidacy,” spokesman Sean Spicer said early Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll enforce the rule of law and restore value to the American citizenship.”
Trump said construction would begin as soon as possible and that the U.S. would pay for it, to be eventually reimbursed by Mexico, which has said it will not pay.
Trump is mulling a range of additional activity. It includes stopping admission of Syrian refugees and severe restrictions on travel from several majority-Muslim countries. Additionally, he is considering a reversal of President Obama’s efforts to shutter the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the reintroduction of torture techniques and secret overseas prisons designed to strip protections for terrorism suspects.
All of those options fit Trump’s broad campaign promises to crack down on people entering the country illegally, with an emphasis on those who he believes might harm Americans. Trump argued repeatedly during the campaign that the U.S. had become too “politically correct” to effectively defend itself.
One memo he is reviewing would block all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and restrict admissions and some visa applicants for people from countries where the U.S. has counterterrorism concerns, not only Syria but also Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The draft order temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program while new vetting procedures are put in place and officials decide whether refugees from some countries should be blocked permanently from admission. This step would likely arouse an international outcry, given the historic role that the U.S. and other industrialized nations have long held in taking in victims of war and oppression.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security would review how visas are issued and whether some countries should be required to provide more information before their citizens are allowed entry to the U.S., according to the draft order. The results of that review could allow Trump to block or slow visa issuance to countries with large Muslim populations or with terrorism concerns, a de facto ban on Muslims.
The order goes beyond the Muslim world, however, creating new restrictions on visitors from some of America’s closest allies. It would suspend the visa waiver program — widely used by citizens from 38 countries, including most European countries, Australia, Japan and Chile — which grants citizens of those countries a 90-day tourist visa after they submit their biographical information to a screening check. The new policy would would require in-person interviews for most citizens from those countries.
Trump is also considering lifting restrictions on harsh interrogations and renewing the use of secret overseas sites to hold terrorism suspects, both widely seen as dark chapters of the post-9/11 era, as he looks to follow through on his campaign promise to ramp up targeting of Islamic militants. - Read More