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WASHINGTON - After issuing executive orders to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and to push for greater enforcement against people who entered the country illegally, President Donald Trump is planning to issue another order banning entry to people from a set of Muslim-majority countries.
"It's countries that have tremendous terror, and it's countries where people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems," Trump said in an interview Wednesday with ABC News.
Those familiar with the draft order say it will include at least a 30-day entry ban for anyone from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
During his campaign, Trump initially proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, only to later alter it to target nations linked to terrorism.
Extreme vetting for others
When asked during the interview about countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia being left off the list, Trump said people from countries not specified in the order will face what he called "extreme vetting." The ban could also include an exception for people who are religious minorities in their country and facing persecution.
The order would also impose a four-month freeze on all refugee admissions into the United States.
Trump criticized European countries for their decision to take in the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled there, many because of war, terrorism and political instability in their home countries. He said in some cases people are coming with "evil intentions," including members of the Islamic State militant group.
"I'm going to be the president of a safe country," Trump told ABC.
He also repeated his advocacy for establishing safe zones in Syria. The idea behind such zones is to have people fleeing other parts of Syria go there instead of seeking refuge outside of the country. It would also involve the potential of increasing the involvement of the U.S. military to provide protection.
In 2016, the U.S. admitted about 85,000 refugees, including more than 12,500 Syrians. Former President Barack Obama set a goal for the 2017 fiscal year, which began in October, of 110,000 refugee admissions.
Obama said his priority was to protect Americans, while also working to help immigrants who had been pushed from their homes by conflict and instability.
The Obama administration said refugees are "the most thoroughly screened travelers" to the United States and are required to undergo security checks, including strict vetting by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and extensive interviews before they are allowed into the country. For many refugees, the process takes up to two years to complete.
For immigrant children who entered the U.S. illegally when their parents crossed the border, Obama issued his own executive order allowing them to stay in the U.S. for two years without the fear of deportation. Many of those children only know the U.S. as their home and are now students or working in the country.
Immigration hardliners want these children deported, along with their parents, but their supporters call them "Dreamers" and have advocated for allowing them to stay in the U.S.
Trump said Wednesday the children "shouldn't be very worried," and that he has a "big heart." He said his policy regarding their status will be coming sometime in the next four weeks.
Source: Voice of America