Despite the mass hysteria and outrage that President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning U.S. entry to refugees from seven terrorism-compromised countries has garnered, the order is hardly unprecedented.
“I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens who meet one or more of the criteria in section 1 of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons,” read an executive order issued in 2011 by former President Barack Obama.
“I agree 100 percent with President Trump’s decision. The national security of the United States is a paramount issue.”
The Obama action paused the processing of Iraqi refugees for a six-month period.
Unlike the recent move by Trump, the temporary refugee ban under Obama was not transparently announced to the public and garnered no widespread outrage.
The Obama ban was not made public until 2013 when federal officials confirmed to ABC News that Iraqi refugees were not processed for six months in 2011.
Officials in the ABC report confirmed the catalyst was the court confession of two al-Qaida terrorists admitted as refugees and living in Kentucky that they had attacked U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq. In addition, the Department of Justice had reason to believe that dozens of suspected terrorists may have been granted asylum in the U.S. while posing as refugees.
“An ABC News investigation of the flawed U.S. refugee screening system, which was overhauled two years ago, showed that [Waad Ramadan] Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army’s Fort Knox and Fort Campbell,” ABC News’ report read. “Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.”
Bowling Green Police Chief Doug Hawkins told ABC News he was dumbfounded that a “known” terrorist pulled off posing as a refugee and gaining entry into the U.S.
“How do you have somebody that we now know was a known actor in terrorism overseas, how does that person get into the United States? How do they get into our community?” Hawkins had said.
Obama issued another order in 2012 that denied entry to Iranians and Syrians into the U.S. who had committed human rights abuses.
Concerns the Obama administration never properly addressed vetting concerns while also openly up pathways for mass migration from other terror hotbeds served as the impetus for Trump’s executive order, signed Friday.
“Protecting this nation and our people is the number one priority of this president and our government,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” “And that’s the point … to make sure that we put the safety of our nation first and foremost. And that we put a plan together during that period to put those extreme vetting measures in place.”
The legal basis for Trump’s executive action was the same as that used to less hysteria by Obama.
The president is empowered under the Immigration and Nationality Act to restrict immigration in the national security interests of the country.
The Act reads, in part, “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
Trump and Obama are not alone in issuing such executive orders temporarily pausing U.S. immigration for certain classes of immigrants, travelers, or refugees. Former President Jimmy Carter ordered in 1980 that visas belonging to Iranians — with a few exceptions — would not be renewed in response to the Iranian hostage crisis. Former President Ronald Reagan also banned Cubans connected with the country’s government and its Communist Party from entry into the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a statement Sunday in which the agency vowed to “enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people.”
“No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States,” the statement read. “The Department of Homeland Security will comply with judicial orders; faithfully enforce our immigration laws, and implement President Trump’s Executive Orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.”
According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Jan. 12, 48 percent of American voters support “suspending immigration from terror prone regions, even if it means turning away refugees.” Only 42 percent of American voters said they would not support the move.
“I agree 100 percent with President Trump’s decision. The national security of the United States is a paramount issue,” Johnny Walker, the Iraqi Muslim interpreter for “American Sniper” Chris Kyle during the Iraq War, told the IJ Review. “I am in full support of the decision that the president has made. We all need to forget about ourselves and put American lives first. Trump’s decision will help prevent terrorism and the death of more innocent people.”